Internet

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube team up against terrorist propaganda

Social media sites will share with each other the digital fingerprints of terrorist images and video that have been posted to their sites.

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Three of the internet's biggest social media sites are banding together to curb the rise of online terrorist content.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, along with Microsoft, said Monday they have partnered on creating a shared database of images and videos that promote terrorism. The database will store and share among partners the "hashes" -- or unique digital fingerprints -- of terrorist content that has been removed from the services for violating their community policies.

"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," the companies said in a statement. "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."

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People stand in front of a makeshift memorial near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on November 13, 2016, as France marked the first anniversary of the Paris attacks.

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Social media sites have become a popular conduit for terrorist groups to share their ideas and recruit people to the cause. These companies have strict rules against posting hate speech and will remove such content and accounts when they're discovered. But the task of searching through the activity of hundreds of millions of users is challenging.

A lawsuit filed in June accused Facebook, Twitter and Google of providing "material support" to terrorist groups such as ISIS. Reynaldo Gonzalez, whose daughter Nohemi was among the 130 people killed in the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, charged that the three tech companies "knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use their social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits."

Images added to the database won't automatically be banned by partner sites. Each company will contribute images and base their decisions on whether to remove content that matches a shared hash based on their own policies and definitions of terrorist content.

The trio said they hope to involve more companies in the effort in the future.