Google has a plan to battle terrorist-related content being posted online.
The tech titan has announced four steps to address a growing problem on YouTube — a problem that is also faced by many fellow social networks Facebook and Twitter.
“There should be no place for terrorist content on our services,” Google general counsel Kent Walker said in a blog post. “While we and others have worked for years to identify and remove content that violates our policies, the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now.”
The first step will be the use of smarter software able to recognize extremist content. Google plans to dedicate more engineering resources such as machine learning research to train new “content classifiers” that will help YouTube more quickly recognize and remove terrorism-related posts.
Second, Google will up the number of independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger program. Walker said Trusted Flagger reports are accurate more than 90 per cent of the time, unlike content flagged by users. Google has promised to add 50 expert NGOs to the 63 organizations that are already part of the program and will support them with operational grants.
“This allows us to benefit from the expertise of specialized organizations working on issues like hate speech, self-harm, and terrorism,” Walker explained. “We will also expand our work with counter-extremist groups to help identify content that may be being used to radicalize and recruit extremists.”
The third step is to crack down on videos that may not be in clear violation of its policies but are still spreading disturbing messages — videos that contain inflammatory supremacist content, for instance.
“In future these will appear behind an interstitial warning and they will not be monetized, recommended or eligible for comments or user endorsements,” Walker said. “That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find. We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints.”
Lastly, YouTube will increase its “counter-radicalization efforts.” The move will build on its Creators for Change program promoting YouTube voices against hate and radicalization. Google is teaming up with Jigsaw to implement its ‘Redirect Method’ technology across Europe. This technology redirects enthusiasts from terrorist propaganda to videos and content that refutes information being peddled by the extremist group. The Redirect Method, for instance, will list advertising alongside ISIS-related search results that link to Arabic- and English-language YouTube channels that offer videos meant to negate any brainwashing done by ISIS.
YouTube is also partnering with other tech firms to battle hate speech on social media.
“Collectively, these changes will make a difference,” Walker said. “And we’ll keep working on the problem until we get the balance right. Extremists and terrorists seek to attack and erode not just our security, but also our values; the very things that make our societies open and free. We must not let them. Together, we can build lasting solutions that address the threats to our security and our freedoms.”