The tech companies plan to create a shared database of ‘unique digital fingerprints’ that can identify images and videos promoting terrorism
Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have pledged to work together to identify and remove extremist content on their platforms through an information-sharing initiative.
The companies are to create a shared database of unique digital fingerprints – known as “hashes” – for images and videos that promote terrorism. This could include recruitment videos or violent terrorist imagery or memes. When one company identifies and removes such a piece of content, the others will be able to use the hash to identify and remove the same piece of content from their own network.
Because the companies have different policies on what constitutes terrorist content, they will start by sharing hashes of “the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos” as they are most likely to violate “all of our respective companies” content policies, they said.
|Technology companies have been under pressure from governments around the world to stall the spread of extremist propaganda. Photo: deepblue4you/Getty Images/iStockphoto
The precise technical details remain to be established, said Facebook, although the approach echoes that adopted to tackle child sexual abuse imagery. The same companies use the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Photo DNA Technology, developed by Microsoft, to identify images of child sexual abuse. However, with PhotoDNA the images are categorized centrally by law enforcement and the technology companies are legally obliged to remove the content.
Technology companies have been under pressure from governments around the world over the spread of extremist propaganda online from terror networks such as Isis.
In January, top White House officials met with representatives from Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft to explre ways to tackle terrorism.
“We are interested in exploring all options with you for how to deal with the growing threat of terrorists and other malicious actors using technology, including encrypted technology,” said a briefing document released before the secretive summit.
“Are there technologies that could make it harder for terrorists to use the internet to mobilize, facilitate, and operationalize?”
Facebook said the latest initiative was not the direct result of the January meeting. But it said all the companies agreed there was no place for content that promotes or supports terrorism on their networks.The Guardian