Deleting terror: US group works to search, destroy online ISIS propaganda

The Counter Extremism Project announces new technology for Internet, social media to rapidly delete jihadist content.

June 29, 2016 15:35
2 minute read.
Social Media

A 3D plastic representation of the Twitter and Youtube logo is seen in front of a displayed ISIS flag . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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An American nonprofit policy organization announced recently the launch of an app that allows social media companies and Internet sites to “quickly remove” jihadist, ISIS-related online propaganda from their platforms.

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) said its application, if introduced, “will greatly reduce the ability of extremists and terrorists to weaponize online platforms to radicalize, recruit, and incite to violence.”

“If we seize this opportunity and have partners across the social media spectrum willing to fight the extremist threat by deploying this technology, extremists will find Internet and social media platforms far less available for their recruiting, fund-raising, propagandizing, and calls to violence,” said CEP Senior Adviser Dr.

Hany Farid.

“It is no longer a matter of not having the technological ability to fight online extremism, it is a matter of the industry and private sector partners having the will to take action.”

Like al-Qaida before it, ISIS greatly relies on online rhetoric for its recruitment and growth campaigns. Jihadists on the Internet have also been issuing operational weapons manuals, and terrorist attack planning tips, for over a decade.

“We believe we now have the tool to reverse this trend,” CEP CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace said in a statement.

The new application, if adopted, would “significantly impact efforts to prevent radicalization and incitement to violence,” he added.

Wallace said CEP’s technology is able to rapidly and efficiently remove “the most horrific examples of extremist content. We hope everyone will embrace its potential.”

Farid worked previously with Microsoft to develop photoDNA, which is software designed to combat online child exploitation. PhotoDNA can eliminate the redistribution of known child pornography by extracting a distinct digital signature from an image and comparing this signature against all images encountered online, the group explained.

In developing its new anti-jihadist software, CEP took this technology and added “new robust hashing technology to encompass video and audio, making it particularly impactful in combating the widespread proliferation of extremist propaganda,” according to CEP.

The group called on creating a national office for reporting extremism that will build up a database of extremist online content, before its application would identify, flag, and remove it using an algorithm.

Currently, CEP said, “tech companies try to take down heinous content that violates their terms of service, but the process is manual and reactive, which hampers speed and effectiveness. CEP’s new technology will streamline and accelerate the process.”

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