Facebook discloses new details on removing terrorism content

Reuters

On Thursday, June 15, 2017, Facebook said it's using artificial intelligence to help it combat terrorists' use of its platform.

Monika Bickert, director of global policy management, and Brian Fishman, counterterrorism policy manager, outlined aspects of Facebook's latest efforts in a post to a new blog the company debuted Thursday.

MPs and anti-terrorism experts have attacked American technology companies for relying on users to flag offensive and risky content, rather than seeking it out. In rare cases, when they uncover evidence of imminent harm, they promptly inform authorities about it.

Bickert and Fishman acknowledge this pressure in their post, writing that "in the wake of recent terrorist attacks, people have questioned the role of tech companies in fighting terrorism online".

It's also collaborating with fellow technology companies and consulting with researchers to keep up with the ever-changing social media tactics of the Islamic State and other terror groups. The company said it would to grow its community operations team by 3,000 over the next year to review flagged content, and that it has hired more than 150 counterterrorism experts who collectively speak almost 30 languages.

"The social media giant is "experimenting with analyzing text" that it has already been removed for praising or supporting terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda so we can develop text-based signals that such content may be terrorist propaganda".

Britain's interior ministry welcomed Facebook's efforts but said technology companies needed to go further.

"We remove terrorists and posts that support terrorism whenever we become aware of them".

Critics argue that the challenges may be enormous in a site with two billion users but the company makes billions of dollars from the content on its site and could devote more resources - and more of its best engineers - to dealing with the issue.

Facebook is using image matching to prevent terrorist content.

Facebook and other platforms have been criticized by politicians for not doing enough to crack down on extremist content. Other questions Schrage said Facebook would address include removing controversial posts and images, fake news and the effect of social media on democracy.

Furthermore, Facebook continues to use human expertise to fight terrorism.

The company is also building an algorithm that aims to analyse written text to keep terrorism-related language off the platform.

Back in December, Facebook teamed up with Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube to create a database for terrorist propaganda and recruitment. "But we do provide the information we can in response to valid law enforcement requests, consistent with applicable law and our policies", the authors wrote.

But artificial intelligence is now being used, for instance, to recognize when a freshly posted image or video matches one known to have been previously removed from the social network - which counts almost two billion users and involves more than 80 languages. "We want to be very clear how seriously we take this - keeping our community safe on Facebook is critical to our mission".

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