The counterterrorism organization set up by the largest US technology companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, is significantly expanding the types of extreme content shared between companies in a key database, with the aim of curbing white space.
The Global Counter-Terrorism Internet Forum (GIFCT) database has so far focused on videos and images of terrorist groups on the UN list, so consisted largely of content from extremist Islamist organizations such as the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.
In the coming months, the group will supplement the database with proclamations from attackers, often shared by sympathizers. following acts of violence against white racists – and other publications and links identified by the UN Tech Against Terrorism el. GIFCT will use the lists of the Five Eyes intelligence group, and URLs and PDFs of other groups, including the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, and the Neo-Nazis, will be added to the collection.
companies share “hashes,” that is, unique numerical representations of original content removed from their services. Other platforms use these to identify identical content on their own pages to review or remove.
Although the project will help combat extreme content on mainstream platforms, groups may still post violent images and rhetoric on many other sites and on many other parts of the Internet.
The Technology Group intends to address a wider range of threats, GIFCT Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen said in an interview with Reuters. “Anyone looking into the field of terrorism or extremism should appreciate that there are other parts … that now need attention,” Rasmussen said, citing the threat of far-right or racially motivated violent extremism.
Technology platforms have long been criticized for not monitoring violent extremist content, although they also face censorship concerns. In the US, the problem of domestic extremism, including white supremacy and militia groups, became urgent again after the deadly Capitol riots on January 6.
Fourteen companies, including Reddit, have access to the GIFCT database , Snapchat owner Snap, a Facebook subsidiary of Instagram, Verizon Media, Microsoft LinkedIn and Dropbox file sharing service.
GIFCT, now an independent organization, was established in 2017 by under pressure from American and European governments following a series of deadly assassinations in Paris and Brussels. Its database mostly includes digital fingerprints of videos and images of groups on the UN Security Council’s consolidated sanctions list, as well as some specific live attacks, such as the 2019 shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The GIFCT has been criticized and raised by some human and digital rights groups for censorship. “To go too far is to violate someone’s right to freedom of expression on the Internet,” said Rasmussen.
The group wants to further expand its database to include the use of audio files or certain symbols. and wants to increase its membership. Recently, the home rental company Airbnb and the email marketing company Mailchimp were added to its membership
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