Microsoft updates policies to tackle terrorism on the internet

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Microsoft has outlined its latest plans to crack down on terrorist and extremist content online. Recognizing that the "internet can be used for the worst reasons imaginable" the company has set out its approach for ensuring that content promoting terrorism does not make it online through its services.

As well as updating its terms of use to make it explicitly clear that terrorist content is not permitted, Microsoft is also planning to up its game in seeking out and removing offending content. To help with this task, the company is forging new partnerships with experts in the field, as well as employing new technology to help to automatically identify and remove terrorist material.

Microsoft says that it wants to be careful to balance its removal and censorship of potentially dangerous content with the notion of free expression. The promotion of terrorism and the posting of terrorist content on any of Microsoft's services is now explicitly prohibited, but the company recognizes that defining what is classed as terrorist material would be open to debate. It says:

There is no universally accepted definition of terrorist content. For purposes of our services, we will consider terrorist content to be material posted by or in support of organizations included on the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List that depicts graphic violence, encourages violent action, endorses a terrorist organization or its acts, or encourages people to join such groups. The UN Sanctions List includes a list of groups that the UN Security Council considers to be terrorist organizations.

But while steps are being taken to speed up the removal of content on a "notice-and-takedown" basis, Microsoft intends to treat Bing rather differently -- part of its promotion of free expression. Rather than removing content without question, the plan is to "remove links to terrorist-related content from Bing only when that takedown is required of search providers under local law".

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