Thursday 26 May 2016

Countering Violent Extremism: Microsoft Joins the Fight Against Terrorism, Radicalization

Technology giant, Microsoft has finally joined the ranks of technology companies committed to tackling terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization online. 

Microsoft acknowledged that "terrorist content" has been posted to its consumer services, which include Xbox Live and Outlook webmail. 
"Terrorism is one of the truly urgent issues of our time," said Microsoft. "We are committed to doing our part to help address the use of technology to promote it or to recruit to its causes."

It's not exactly clear what Microsoft's anti terrorism strategy involves, but the company stressed that it would not censor results on its search engine Bing. 

"We will remove links to terrorist-related content from Bing only when that takedown is required of search providers under local law," said Microsoft. It also has plans to work with nongovernmental organisations to offer "alternative narratives" in its search results. 

"We're hopeful that these upcoming collaborations will help protect troubled individuals from heading down a path toward violence." 

Steps taken by other technology firms are doing to rein in terrorism and radicalization online 


Facebook has assembled a team focused on policing terrorist material and has promoted counter-speech


Twitter has suspended more than 125,000 accounts associated with terrorism


Encrypted messaging app Telegram says it has shut down hundreds of Islamic State propaganda channels

Hacker organisation and web freedom fighters Anonymous have declared "war" on the Islamic State and claim to have helped prevent attacks.

With its entry into efforts to counter terrorism narratives,
Microsoft is one of the last major tech companies to issue anti terrorism policies. Facebook, Google and secure messaging app. 

Telegram have been monitoring and taking down terrorist content for a while. 
Google, for example, said it would show anti-radicalism links to people who typed extremist search terms into the service. 

Secure messaging app Telegram has blocked over 600 Channels associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant since November.

And Facebook has a whole team dedicated to policing terrorist material. 

Earlier this year, Monika Bickert, who oversees the team that polices content on Facebook, including terrorism-related activity, told the Telegraph: "One thing we’ve heard time and time again from academics is if you want to find terrorists online or those supporting terrorist ideologies, the best thing is to find their friends.

"So when we become aware of an account supporting terrorism, we look at associated accounts so we can remove them immediately."

As part of its plan to tackle terrorism, Microsoft has also announced funding to Hany Farid, a professor at Dartmouth College, to develop a technology that scans documents, video, images and audio to identify terrorism-material only. 

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