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YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft Form New Group to Fight Terrorist Content

Four of the world’s biggest internet platforms — Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube — have teamed up to form a new coalition to make their services “hostile to terrorists and violent extremists.”

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, announced Monday, aims to formalize existing and future areas of collaboration among the companies. The group said it also expects to foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations on developing policies and technologies to thwart the dissemination of terrorist content.

“The spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all,” the companies said in a joint statement. “We believe that by working together, sharing the best technological and operational elements of our individual efforts, we can have a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online.”

Among the specific goals outlined by the companies are defining “standard transparency reporting methods” for terrorist content removals and commissioning research related to the removal of such material to help guide future policy and technical decisions.

The companies said the new forum will build on existing initiatives including the EU Internet Forum and the Shared Industry Hash Database — which tracks unique digital “fingerprints” for violent terrorist photos and videos — discussions with U.K. political leaders and other governments, and the findings of recent G7 and European Council meetings on the subject.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism will host a series of workshops in Silicon Valley and elsewhere around the world in partnership with U.N. CTED/ICT4Peace to further the anti-terror agenda.

All four of the companies have been criticized for not doing enough to fight terrorist activity on their internet services, and in some cases have been sued by families of people killed in terrorist attacks. Google was singled out earlier this year after ads from major brands were discovered running against extremist and hate-speech videos on YouTube, prompting several hundred advertisers to freeze ad spending on the service.

Pictured above: British police forensic investigators walk down a bridge linking Victoria Station with Manchester Arena, on May 23, 2017, following the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert the previous night.

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