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Microsoft takes a stance against terrorism on its consumer services

The free domain of the internet has quickly presented itself as a double-edged sword, with a growing number of terrorist organizations taking to web to organize and communicate. But now, one major tech company is taking a stance against this trend. In a blog post published Friday, Microsoft unveiled a series of new policies designed to combat “terrorist content” across its consumer services. From Xbox Live to its Outlook email service, the company plans on purging as much extremist content as possible.

“We have a responsibility to run our various Internet services so that they are a tool to empower people, not to contribute, however indirectly, to terrible acts,” Microsoft wrote in its blog post. “We also have a responsibility to run our services in a way that respects timeless values such as privacy, freedom of expression and the right to access information.” As such, the company said that it’s looking to crack down on terrorist content while maintaining fundamental respect for freedom of expression.

Therefore, the Washington-based company noted, their approach will be two-fold: one the one hand, the firm promises to “tackle this content when it appears on our services,” and on the other, Microsoft is “investing in partnerships with others who are working to tackle the broader issue.”

In terms of its own services, Microsoft has amended its terms of use “to specifically prohibit the posting of terrorist content on our hosted consumer services.” It’s defining terrorist content as that which “depicts graphic violence, encourages violent action, endorses a terrorist organization or its acts, or encourages people to join such groups.”

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Moreover, Microsoft is urging the public to take part in its efforts as well, using the online reporting tool or this form. Finally, when it comes to Bing, Microsoft wants to maintain the usefulness of a tool meant for information access, and thereby has determined to “remove links to terrorist-related content from Bing only when that takedown is required of search providers under local law.”

The tech company also plans on leveraging new technologies, investing in public-private partnerships, and providing additional information and resources in order to continue the digital fight against terrorism.

“Terrorism is one of the truly urgent issues of our time,” Microsoft concluded. “We are committed to doing our part to help address the use of technology to promote it or to recruit to its causes.”