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January 16, 2019

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft join to fight terrorist propaganda

The Twitter logo. /FILE
The Twitter logo. /FILE

The four tech giants,YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft are joining forces to come up with a way of identifying some the worst terrorist propaganda and prevent it from spreading online.

In an increasingly connected world where social networking has made us all news sources, missteps and misinformation get issued and repeated more quickly than ever.

In Kenya for instance, four students from the Moi University in Eldoret were in 2015 suspected to have joined the al Shabaab terror group through social media.

Social media has increasingly become a tool for recruiting and radicalization by the Islamic State group and others.

The new program announced last week would create a database of unique digital 'fingerprints' to help automatically identify videos or images the companies could remove.

The program is expected to begin early 2017. Its use by terror groups and supporters has added to the threat with little or no time for law enforcement to follow evidentiary trails before an attack.

Under the new partnership, the companies promised to share among themselves 'the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos we have removed from our services — content most likely to violate all our respective companies' content policies,' a joint announcement read on Monday evening.

When such content is shared internally, the other participating companies will be notified and can use the digital fingerprints to quickly identify the same content on their own services to judge whether it violates their rules thereby companies can delete the material and possibly disable the account, as appropriate.

Most social media services explicitly do not allow content that supports violent action or illegal activities. Twitter for instance moved toward partial automation in the late 2015, using unspecified 'proprietary spam-fighting tools' to find accounts that might be violating its terms of service and promoting terrorism. The material still required review by a team at Twitter before the accounts could be disabled. A statement by Dailmail read.

This might help more so countries like Kenya that are fighting hard to cease radicalization of the youths into joining ISIS or Al shabaab. The four companies say they will be looking at involving additional companies in the future.

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