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Top Social Media Networks in US working together to Remove Photos and Videos used to Recruit People into Terrorism

Twitter suspended 235,000 accounts between February and August this year and has expanded the teams reviewing reports of extremist content

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FILE - A 3-D printed logo of Twitter and an Islamic State flag are seen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 18, 2016. VOA
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December 6, 2016: The top social media networks in the United States say they are working together to quickly identify and take down photos and video that are used to recruit people into terrorism.

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube announced Monday that they will create a shared database that identifies flagged images and video using unique “fingerprints,” making it easier for the companies to review and potentially remove the content.

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They said each company will then determine whether the material violates their terms of service.

“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,” the companies said in a statement. “There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services.”

FILE - An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Wilayat Fazzan, in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website on April 19, 2015. VOA
FILE – An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Wilayat Fazzan, in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website on April 19, 2015. VOA

The internet giants have come under increasing pressure from governments around the world to do more to remove extremist material.

In the United States, lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require social media companies to report to police any online terrorist activities they learn about.

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Most social media services have terms of agreement that prohibit content that supports violent or illegal activities. The companies typically rely on users to flag inappropriate content, which is then reviewed by editors.

Twitter suspended 235,000 accounts between February and August this year and has expanded the teams reviewing reports of extremist content.

The new database will be up and running by early 2017, and more companies could be brought into the partnership.

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The European Union set up an EU Internet Forum last year bringing together the internet companies, interior ministers and the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator to find ways of removing extremist content.

The forum will meet again Thursday, when ministers are expected to ask the companies about their efforts and helping to provide evidence to convict foreign fighters. (VOA)

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Microsoft Wants Regulation For Facial Recognition Technology To Start in 2019

Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

Given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology in 2019, Microsoft President Brad Smith has said.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” warned Smith in a blog post on Thursday.

“The time for action has arrived,” he said, adding that the industry must also exercise restraint while using this technology.

Speaking of the benefits of the technology, the Microsoft President mentioned that police in New Delhi recently trialled facial recognition technology and identified almost 3,000 missing children in four days.

Similarly, historians in the US have used the technology to identify the portraits of unknown soldiers in Civil War photographs taken in the 1860s.

Researchers successfully used facial recognition software to diagnose a rare, genetic disease in Africans, Asians and Latin Americans.

And in October, the National Australia Bank designed a proof of concept to enable customers to withdraw money from an Automatic Teller Machine using facial recognition and a PIN.

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Regulation for facial recognition technology must start in 2019: Microsoft. Pixabay

But at the same time, the potential for abuse of this technology is huge, Smith said, adding that certain uses of this technology could lead to biased decisions and discrimination.

Moreover, the widespread use of this technology can lead to new intrusions into people’s privacy, he said.

“The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms,” Smith added.

Also Read- Fujifilm Launches its Medium Format Mirrorless Camera in India

“While we believe that new laws and regulations are indispensable, we also recognise that they are not a substitute for the responsibility that needs to be exercised by tech companies,” he said.

Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology.

The company, Smith said, would start adopting new principles to manage the issues surrounding facial recognition technology in the first quarter of 2019. (IANS)