Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube in forum to counter terrorism

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June 27, 2017 (LBO) – Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube announced Monday the formation of a ‘Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.’

The companies in a joint statement said the forum “will help us continue to make our hosted consumer services hostile to terrorists and violent extremists.”

The forum builds on the EU Internet Forum and the Shared Industry Hash Database, discussions with the U.K. and other governments, and the conclusions of the recent G7 and European Council meetings.

“The spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all. We take these issues very seriously, and each of our companies have developed policies and removal practices that enable us to take a hard line against terrorist or violent extremist content on our hosted consumer services,” the statement said.

“We believe that by working together, sharing the best technological and operational elements of our individual efforts, we can have a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online.”

The forum will formalize and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the U.N.

The companies said their work will evolve over time and will need to be responsive to the ever-evolving terrorist and extremist tactics.

Initially their work will focus on:

“1) Technological solutions: Our companies will work together to refine and improve existing joint technical work, such as the Shared Industry Hash Database; exchange best practices as we develop and implement new content detection and classification techniques using machine learning; and define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals.”

“2) Research: We will commission research to inform our counter-speech efforts and guide future technical and policy decisions around the removal of terrorist content.

“3) Knowledge-sharing: We will work with counter-terrorism experts including governments, civil society groups, academics and other companies to engage in shared learning about terrorism. And through a joint partnership with the U.N. Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) and the ICT4Peace Initiative, we are establishing a broad knowledge-sharing network to:

“Engage with smaller companies: We will help them develop the technology and processes necessary to tackle terrorist and extremist content online.

“Develop best practices: We already partner with organizations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anti-Defamation League and Global Network Initiative to identify how best to counter extremism and online hate, while respecting freedom of expression and privacy. We can socialize these best practices, and develop additional shared learnings on topics such as community guideline development, and policy enforcement.

“Counterspeech: Each of us already has robust counterspeech initiatives in place (e.g., YouTube’s Creators for Change, Jigsaw’s Redirect Method, Facebook’s P2P and OCCI, Microsoft’s partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue for counter-narratives on Bing, Twitter’s global NGO training program).

“The forum we have established allows us to learn from and contribute to one another’s counterspeech efforts, and discuss how to further empower and train civil society organizations and individuals who may be engaged in similar work and support ongoing efforts such as the Civil society empowerment project (CSEP).”

The companies will be hosting a series of learning workshops in partnership with UNCTED/ICT4Peace in Silicon Valley and around the world to drive these areas of collaboration, adding further information will be shared in due course.