How social media is fighting terror

Social media is changing the world in both good and bad ways.  It is changing the way government communicates with its citizens, it allows them to manage disasters and gives people the ability to easily communicate across the globe in a way that was never available before.  People around the world now have the ability to communicate in real-time via video, audio and text in a fairly secure manner. This makes people feel close to each other while they are 1000s of miles apart. All of this sounds great but social media has been and is currently being used in nefarious ways.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are coming together to help minimize terrorist content online.  They are keeping a database of known terrorist images, videos, etc. that they have pulled from their individual services.  They will have a digital fingerprint of the content and share it with the other social media companies.  This will allow them to easily scan their servers for the same content.   For example, If Facebook discovers a terrorist recruiting video on their servers they will update the database and Microsoft, Twitter and Youtube will automatically scan their servers for the same video.  This will force the terrorist to use new or modified content on each of social media sites.

They hope that other social media companies, domestic and international, will join them in the future.  China and Russia both have large social media companies that they are willing to work with. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming years given the current political environment.

To give you an idea of how big of a problem this is, Twitter suspended over 636,000 accounts between August 2015 and December 2016 with nearly 377,000 accounts in the last 6 months of 2016 alone.  It is highly likely that these terrorist images and videos were also posted to many other social media companies.

This shared database is a great tool to minimize the spread of terrorism.  I think that having these companies, that could be considered competitors in some ways, working together for the greater good is crucial for the safety and security of the US.  I hope other international social media companies join to minimize terrorism worldwide.

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One Response to How social media is fighting terror

  1. sydhavely says:

    Great post. AMBER alerts are part of the solution for missing kids but this cooperative effort against terrorism has even wider potential for the greater good. Well done.

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