UK unveils new technology to fight extremist content online


By DANICA KIRKA
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) – The British government is unveiling new technology designed to remove extremist material from social media, amid mounting pressure on companies like Facebook and Twitter to do more to remove such content from their platforms.

The software, developed by ASI Data Science with funding from the government, was announced Tuesday by Home Secretary Amber Rudd ahead of meetings with technology executives and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen this week in Silicon Valley. The program will be shared with smaller companies that don’t have the resources to develop such technology, the agency said.

“I hope this new technology the Home Office has helped develop can support others to go further and faster,” Rudd said before the meetings. “The purpose of these videos is to incite violence in our communities, recruit people to their cause, and attempt to spread fear in our society.”

Governments and law enforcement agencies have been pressing social media companies to do more to prevent extremists from using their sites to promote violence and hatred. British Prime Minister Theresa May has called on internet companies to remove extremist propaganda from their sites in less than two hours.

But extremist content is only one type of objectionable content on the internet, with governments struggling to stem the flow of everything from child pornography to so-called fake news. The importance of the battle was underscored during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, during which Russian entities sought to influence to outcome by placing thousands of ads on social media that reached some 10 million people on Facebook alone.

Social media companies have struggled to respond. Because the companies see themselves not as publishers but as platforms for other people to share information, they have traditionally been cautious about taking down material.

Amid growing pressure, Facebook, Twitter, Google and its unit YouTube last year created the Global Internet Forum to Combat Terrorism, which says it is committed to developing new content-detection technology, helping smaller companies combat extremism and promoting “counter-speech,” content meant to blunt the impact of extremist material.

Unilever, a global consumer products company and one of the world’s largest advertisers, on Monday…



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