FB, Google auto-block terror videos

Some of the web’s biggest destinations for watching videos have quietly started using automation to remove extremist content from their sites, according to two people familiar with the process.The move is a major step forward for internet companies that are eager to eradicate violent propaganda from their sites, and under pressure to do so from governments around the world as attacks by extremists proliferate. YouTube and Facebook are among the sites deploying systems to block or rapidly take down videos by the so-called Islamic State and similar material, the sources said. The technology was originally developed to identify and remove copyright-protected content on video sites. It looks for “hashes“, a type of unique digital fingerprint that internet firms automatically assign to specific videos, allowing all content with matching fingerprints to be removed rapidly .

Several Web Firms Secretly Deploying Tech To Tackle Online Radicalisation

Such a system would catch attempts to repost content already identified as unacceptable, but would not automatically block videos that have not been seen before.

The companies would not confirm that they are using the method or talk about how it might be employed, but numerous people familiar with the technology said posted videos could be checked against a database of banned content to identify new postings of, say, a beheading or a lecture inciting violence.

The two sources would not discuss how much human work goes into reviewing videos identified as matches or near-matches by the technology . They also would not say how videos in the databases were initially identified as extremist.

Use of the technology is likely to be refined over time as internet companies continue to discuss the issue internally and with competitors and other interested parties.In late April, amid pressure from US President Barack Obama and European leaders concerned about online radicalisation, internet companies including Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, Twitter Inc, Facebook Inc and CloudFlare held a call to discuss options, including a content-blocking system put forward by the private Counter Extremism Project, according to one person on the call and three who were briefed on what was discussed. The discussions un derscored the central but difficult role some of the world’s most influential companies now play in addressing issues such as terrorism, free speech and the lines between government and corporate authority .

The firms now using automation are not publicly discussing it, two sources said, in part out of concern that terrorists might learn how to manipulate it or that repressive regimes might insist the technology be used to censor opponents.