Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube To Target ‘Terrorist Content’

Shortly after European officials warned that U.S. technology companies need to do better at curbing online hate speech, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube have announced they'll start sharing data to reduce the spread of "terrorist content" online.

In a joint statement yesterday, the companies said they will create a shared industry database of unique digital "fingerprints" identifying violent terrorist images and recruitment materials they have removed from their services. The shared data, called "hashes," is aimed at improving the efficiency at which tech firms control the spread of such content.

The announcement followed reports by The Financial Times and Reuters that a European Union (EU) study found that the firms were not living up to the voluntary compliance standards on online hate speech they agreed to earlier this year. If compliance didn't improve, the EU could consider imposing stricter non-voluntary regulations on those companies, one official warned.

Focus on 'Most Extreme, Egregious' Content

In addition to sharing hashes of "the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos we have removed from our services," Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube aim to involve other companies in the effort in the future, according to the statement.

The companies also noted that each one will determine individually which image and video hashes to share based on their own policies for determining what constitutes terrorist content. It will then be up to the other companies receiving the shared information to decide whether to remove that content from their own sites.

"No personally identifiable information will be shared, and matching content will not be automatically removed," the companies said. "Each company will continue to apply its own policies and definitions of terrorist content when deciding whether to remove content when a match to a shared hash is found. And each company will continue to apply its practice...

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