These tech giants will now work together to keep terrorists off the web

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Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube may be competing social networks and tech giants, but when it comes to stopping terrorism, the firms are on the same page. On June 26, the four companies announced the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a new group working together to remove terrorist content, and prevent terrorists from using online platforms to promote and foment violence.

“The spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all,” the announcement, shared by all four companies involved, reads. “We take these issues very seriously, and each of our companies has developed policies and removal practices that enable us to take a hard line against terrorist or violent extremist content on our hosted consumer services. 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 announcement says the new forum will identify areas for the companies to collaborate on, and will foster further cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil rights groups, academics, governments, and multinational entities including the European Union and the United Nations.

Initially, the forum will focus on building technological solutions, including using machine learning or artificial intelligence to flag potentially harmful content. The groups will also collaborate with their best practices policies and work to create a standard method on how to report and remove terrorist content.

Along with working on a tech-based solution, the forum is designed to share other knowledge and research. The forum will work with counter-terrorism experts through a partnership with the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate and the ICT4Peace Initiative. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft will share information, including counter-speech initiatives and best practices, with each other and with smaller companies.

The group is also expected to conduct research to guide related decisions and guidelines in the future.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism isn’t the first time the four companies have come together for a similar purpose. All four companies announced last year that they will all share hashes, or digital fingerprints. That means when one platform removes content, the other three can quickly identify and remove any similar content uploaded to their platforms.