Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter join forces to fight terrorism
Terrorism is a daily threat to our freedoms. It is unfortunate, as we used to be able to go throughout our days without the thought of violence. Now, it dominates the news. Heck, when I am in Penn Station in NYC, I see soldiers with machine guns. Sigh.
Unfortunately, terrorists thrive on the internet too. Using social media and video platforms like YouTube, these evil-doers look to recruit new members while sharing propaganda. Today, Google announces that it is partnering with some major players -- Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter -- to fight online terrorism with a special database. The partners will look to protect user privacy in the process.
"Starting today, we commit to the creation of a shared industry database of 'hashes' -- unique digital 'fingerprints' -- for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services. By sharing this information with each other, we may use the shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on our respective hosted consumer platforms. We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online", says Google.
The search giant further explains, "our companies will begin sharing hashes of the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos we have removed from our services -- content most likely to violate all of our respective companies' content policies. Participating companies can add hashes of terrorist images or videos that are identified on one of our platforms to the database. Other participating companies can then use those hashes to identify such content on their services, review against their respective policies and definitions, and remove matching content as appropriate".
This is actually a very cool project. It reminds me of the time immediately after 9/11, when we discovered government agencies were not properly aligned or openly communicating. By opening the lines of communication and sharing information, the agencies were much more effective. Here, we see major online companies in the private sector voluntarily sharing information to better fight terrorism. I am very happy to see this being done proactively, and not as a result of a catastrophe.
Of course, the web is much more than Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, but don't worry -- these four are looking to bring other organizations into the fold too. This will take time, however, as incorporating too many companies too fast could prove disastrous -- leaked information and such. Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
What do you think of this collaboration to fight terrorism? Tell me in the comments.