Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter unite to fight terrorist propaganda

Social media firms aim to tackle terrorism on their platforms

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube are joining forces to identify terrorist content and prevent it from being spread online. 

In a statement announcing their partnership on this project, the companies said: "There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services. When alerted, we take swift action against this kind of content in accordance with our respective policies."

The companies are to create a shared database of 'hashes' (unique 'digital fingerprints') associated with violent terrorist imagery, terrorist recruitment videos and images they remove from their services.

By tracking terrorist content together, they hope to ensure that the same extremist content posted on one site does not later appear on another. This should ultimately make content easier to track and suppress.

"We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online," said the companies.

The statement adds that no identifiable information will be shared, the content will simply be flagged to the companies and that each of them will then apply its own policies in deciding what to do with it.

The partnership was announced shortly after the European commission slammed tech companies for not doing enough to counteract hate speech on their platforms.

In May, Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and Microsoft signed an agreement that forced them to remove or disable hateful content within 24 hours of detecting it. But the European Commission still feels the companies often took longer than agreed.

The new partnership appears to be a further step towards identifying and censoring innappropriate content online. 

The companies added: "Throughout this collaboration, we are committed to protecting our users' privacy and their ability to express themselves freely and safely on our platforms. We also seek to engage with the wider community of interested stakeholders in a transparent, thoughtful and responsible way as we further our shared objective to prevent the spread of terrorist content online while respecting human rights."

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