Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube & Twitter take on the far-right in anti-terrorism initiative

Founded in 2017, Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have collaborated in an anti-terrorism partnership. The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) is designed to eradicate terrorism and extremism from online platforms.

After primarily being used to take down Islamist extremism and stomp out ISIS recruitment, GIFCT is turning its focus now. With the spread of far-right rhetoric resulting in home-soil terrorist actions such as the 2021 Capitol Riots, more is being done to tackle the extremist threat.

What does GIFCT do?

The counterterrorism initiative currently houses a database full of terrorist content. Services such as Facebook, YouTube, Dropbox and others can then use that database to remove and report extremist content.

GIFCT has already been used to tackle ISIS. However, the service was also used to take down far-right content as a result of the Christchurch Shooting. After the incident, videos and the shooter's manifesto were circulated online. The GIFCT service was used to identify and remove that content.

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GIFCT is taking on far-right groups

The service is now expanding to take on more far-right groups. With Intel from the United Nations, the service will now tackle Neo-Nazis and other far-right groups like Proud Boys and Three Percenters.

Other far-right groups such as QAnon are not being treated as seriously despite their alarming growth. In an article by Protocol, it was revealed that these less organised groups aren’t being targeted. However, if a member commits an act of extremism, that individual will be scrubbed from the internet.

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In January, 2021, far-right groups stormed the US Capitol Building. (Image via unsplash.)

GIFCT director of programming Erin Saltman said:

“There’s a lot of concern of over-censorship, especially when there are such close ties to politics.”

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How Facebook, YouTube and more will use this

The list of company's that pull from the GIFCT pool of information is long. Everything from Dropbox to Snapchat has access to the service’s database to help reduce extremism. However, platforms will be able to pick and choose rules of removal with the new database.

In a statement to The Verge, a spokesperson said not all content in the database has to be removed. Instead, despite serious extremist threats occurring as a result of social media, it’s up to the individual platforms to decide which content is too much.

Despite the improval of the GIFCT's database for far-right content, it still leaves the extremist groups space to grow. With this in mind, will this new initiative prove successful?

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