Four of the world’s biggest disseminators of online content—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft—said today that they are ready to do more self-policing to keep terrorist propaganda from spreading on the internet.
The companies say they will create a shared database to track “violent terrorist imagery” and “terrorist recruitment videos or images,” helping each other more efficiently review content that might violate their specific policies. They will do this by logging hashes, digital identifiers that are unique to each piece of content. Once a hash is added to the database, each company will make its own decision about whether to remove that particular piece of content.
“There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services,” the four companies said in a joint press release.
Conversations around what role tech companies should play in policing the content on their platforms have grown more urgent ever since Donald Trump won the US presidential election on Nov. 8. Much of the discussion has focused on the fake and often hate-fueled news that spread on Facebook and elsewhere during the campaign, as well as the “filter bubbles” of information created by social media and an increasingly fragmented media.
The collaboration announced today is limited to online terrorist content. It does not represent “a new normal” for other content questions, one of the companies involved said, adding that the spread of terrorism online “is a pressing problem that requires special attention from technology companies.
Facebook will maintain the database, and only those working on the project will be able to contribute to and access it, with the potential for other companies to join in the future