Internet Says No To Hatred – Google, Facebook, Microsoft Unite To Auto-Block Extremist Videos


Extremist Videos Blocked

Videos encouraging hatred and fueling anger, extremist viewpoints would be automatically blocked by leading Internet portals. If we leave aside the campaign to protect privacy, then this is the for the first time that Internet behemoths such as Google, Facebook, Twitter along with Microsoft and others have united to stop the flow of extremism via Internet.

As per exclusive reports from Reuters, some of the largest digital and Internet companies including Youtube, Facebook, CloudFlare, Twitter and others held a close-door meeting in April to discuss such a content blocking protocol which can identify extremist videos and automatically block them. This meeting was conducted after US President Barack Obama and some European leaders pressurized Internet portals to help stop the ‘hate propaganda’ unleashed by terrorist outfits such as ISIS and Taliban among others.

This is essentially a censorship, aimed to stopping viewing and sharing of such extremist content, and till date, no company has come out in the open, accepting it.

In a statement, Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bick said that Facebook is “exploring with others in industry ways we can collaboratively work to remove content that violates our policies against terrorism.”

Twitter said that they still evaluating the possibilities, and “haven’t taken a position” yet.

Google has declined to comment.

How Will This Censorship Work?

As per Reuters, it was tentatively decided by various stakeholders in that close-door meeting to use existing copyright scanners to flag extremist videos, and stop their sharing and viewing abilities.

The modus-operandi is simple: Whenever a video with copyright protection is uploaded, the portals like Youtube and Facebook assigns a hashtag or a digital footprint which can be used to remove all such videos in one single go.

The same strategy can now be implemented to block hatred and extremist videos from their platform. As of now, once the videos are flagged by the algorithm, a human team reviews it, and then blocks it as per the requirements. It’s not yet clear as to how much human intervention would be required in blocking extremist videos like beheading of hostages or hatred speeches encouraging violence against a race or religion.

Technology Which Can Be Used To Block Extremist Videos

As per Reuters, technology developed by The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) can be to block such videos. CEP was formed by some of the renowned leaders such as Frances Townsend, advisor of former US President George W. Bush on internal security, and Mark Wallace, deputy campaign manager for the Bush 2004 re-election campaign. They have formulated a massive database of such hate-spewing organizations, and keep tracking the Internet for their extremist videos.

CEP has actually requested these Internet behemoths to use their technology and research to stop such videos; but as per reports coming in, companies like Google and Facebook doesn’t want an outsider to dictate them in censoring their content, hence, a deadlock is existing now.

One other possibility is using industry-funded, non-profit organization National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to automatically ban such videos. Funded by Microsoft, this organization uses a technology called PhotoDNA to block child pornograghy.

Censoring is a delicate matter, and no Internet portal as big as Google or Facebook will publically claim that they will block certain videos, even if they are extremist in nature. A fine balance needs to be maintained between Freedom of Speech, Hatred and Responsibility to stop extremism.

And, whether other forms of content such as pictures, messages etc would be part of this censorship?

We will keep you updated as more details come in.

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