Facebook taps artificial intelligence in new push to block terrorist propaganda

Reuters

To keep terrorist content off Facebook, Facebook is also deploying artificial intelligence (AI) technology to stop anyone uploading a photo or video that matches a known terrorism photo or video; remove material related to pages, groups, posts or profiles already identified as supporting terrorism; and detect new fake accounts created by repeat offenders.

"This work is never finished because it is adversarial, and the terrorists are continuously evolving their methods too".

"When it comes to imagery related to terrorism, context is everything", said Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management.

"We are now focusing our most cutting edge techniques to combat terrorist content about ISIS, Al Qaeda and their affiliates, and we expect to expand to other terrorist organizations in due course", Facebook said in a statement about the update.

The company announced that plus a number of other steps it says it's taking as it faces growing pressure from government leaders to identify and prevent the spread of content from terrorist groups on its massive social network.

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After a terrorist attack at London Bridge earlier this month, May, the British prime minister, accused technology companies of fostering a breeding ground for terrorists and called for tough internet regulation.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said that it is focusing on "cutting edge techniques" to fight terrorist content about ISIS, Al Qaeda and their affiliates on its social networking site. Some experts criticized it as a drop in the bucket considering how much content Facebook's users share.

Even though the technology is under development and is now not in its established state, Brian Fishman, Facebook's lead policy manager for counterterrorism, said the company had a team of 150 specialists working in 30 languages doing such reviews.

Britain's interior ministry welcomed Facebook's efforts but said technology companies needed to go further. Bickart and Fishman said the counterterrorism team has 150 members, which include former prosecutors, former law enforcement agents and engineers.

Facebook said it will work to "counter terrorism and extremist content" by expanding its ranks of "terrorism and safety specialists, including academic experts on counter-terrorism and former law enforcement officers".

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Facebook also uses these tools on its other platforms, like Instagram and WhatsApp, though it stressed that it does not have the ability to read encrypted messages.

AI, Facebook says, is also useful for identifying and removing "terrorist clusters".

"We're constantly identifying new ways that terrorist actors try to circumvent our systems and we update our tactics accordingly".

Along with Google's (GOOGL) YouTube, Twitter (TWTR) and Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook has joined a database that assigns digital fingerprints to militant content so partners can bar it from their own site.

In the post, Bickert and Fishman admit "AI can't catch everything".

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Terrorism remains a problem that governments and companies everywhere are attempting to solve, but Facebook plans to launch several initiatives to contribute to these efforts.

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