4 Internet Giants Formed the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism

The four companies will share technology, operational elements and best practices

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are joining forces to take on terrorism.

The internet giants Monday announced the formation of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism with the aim of sharing technology, operational elements and best practices to stamp out terrorist or violent extremist content on their respective services.

The four companies said in a joint announcement introducing the initiative:

The spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all. We take these issues very seriously, and each of our companies have 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.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube said they are building on initiatives such as the EU Internet Forum and Shared Industry Hash Database; discussions with the U.K. government; and conclusions from the recent G7 and European Council meetings, adding that the initial items the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism will focus on are:

Technological solutions: Our companies will work together to refine and improve existing joint technical work, such as the Shared Industry Hash Database; exchange best practices as we develop and implement new content-detection and classification techniques using machine learning; and define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals.

Research: We will commission research to inform our counterspeech efforts and guide future technical and policy decisions around the removal of terrorist content.

Knowledge sharing: We will work with counterterrorism experts including governments, civil society groups, academics and other companies to engage in shared learning about terrorism.

And through a joint partnership with the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate and the ICT4Peace Initiative, we are establishing a broad knowledge-sharing network to:

  • Engage with smaller companies: We will help them develop the technology and processes necessary to tackle terrorist and extremist content online.
  • Develop best practices: We already partner with organizations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anti-Defamation League and Global Network Initiative to identify how best to counter extremism and online hate, while respecting freedom of expression and privacy. We can socialize these best practices and develop additional shared learnings on topics such as community guideline development and policy enforcement.
  • Counterspeech: each of us already has robust counterspeech initiatives in place (e.g., YouTube’s Creators for Change, Jigsaw’s Redirect method, Facebook’s P2P and OCCI, Microsoft’s partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue for counter-narratives on Bing, Twitter’s global NGO training program). The forum we have established allows us to learn from and contribute to one another’s counterspeech efforts, and discuss how to further empower and train civil society organizations and individuals who may be engaged in similar work and support ongoing efforts such as the Civil Society Empowerment Project.

Finally, the four companies announced that they will host a series of learning workshops in partnership with UN CTED/ICT4Peace in Silicon Valley and around the world.

Image courtesy of Main_sail/iStock.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.