YouTube, Facebook ‘quietly’ boost efforts against ISIS propaganda videos – report

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In a move to eradicate propaganda of violence on their platforms, some of the world’s most popular social networks, including Facebook and YouTube, have quietly started to delete content deemed extremist automatically, Reuters reported citing sources.

“YouTube and Facebook are among the sites deploying systems to block or rapidly take down Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] videos and other similar material,” the news agency reported on Saturday, saying the “major step” has been confirmed by two people familiar with the process.

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The social media platforms are apparently deploying the same technology that was designed to identify and remove video content that is copyright-protected. Searching for a unique digital fingerprint that is automatically assigned to specific videos, known as hashes, the system can quickly remove all content with such matching fingerprints. Yet it only prevents the not-allowed content from being reposted and cannot automatically block videos that have not previously been identified.

It’s not clear if the videos are being reviewed automatically or with any human involvement.

The companies would not confirm whether any method to eradicate extremist posts has been employed, Reuters said, adding that – according to its sources – such secrecy might be a part of the effort to prevent such content from spreading. The companies might be concerned that terrorists could learn how to manipulate their systems, the two sources said. Another reason for doing it quietly is the fear of being accused of censorship.

Meanwhile, internet companies continue to discuss the issue internally, the report claimed, saying that the social media is looking into ways to prevent online radicalization.

“It’s a little bit different than copyright or child pornography, where things are very clearly illegal,” the deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, Seamus Hughes, told Reuters.

As of now, the social media platforms mostly delete content that violates their terms of service, after reviewing users’ complaints on certain postings.