Dec 08, 2016 10:13 AM EST
Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube have declared that they will join forces to stop the dissemination of online terrorist material. These internet giants will produce a shared industry database of hashes. Hashes are online fingerprints that work in the identification of a specific file.
In a joint statement that the four companies have released, they hope that their collaboration will bring more efficiency in the pressing global concern of terrorist content online, as reported by Ars Technica.
The moment that a hash has been added to the database, other collaborating companies can utilize these hashes to determine such content on their services, appraise against their respective policies and definitions, and take out matching content. The joint statement reports that matching content has to be removed manually and other online sites are prodded to join the plan.
Each company that pledges to participate will identify images and video hashes independently. However, there is no exact detail on how the scheme will work. An example of such is Microsoft's PhotoDNA that is meant to fight online images of child sex abuse. The system of Microsoft collects a digital signature of images that can be utilized to match against a database of known images of child pornography.
It is significant to take note of the main difference of the two situations. Child sex abuse is clearly illegal. However, there is ambiguousness in defining the exact meaning of "violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images." There is a possibility that the new database will bring censorship. Cases where a materials is legal yet controversial. This material might be taken off for being on the safer side.
The four tech giants are aware of this controversial issue. They have pledged that this collaboration will result to protection of the privacy of users and in their freedom of expression that can be safely done through these social media platforms.
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