Tech Giants Cooperate to Remove 40,000 Terrorism Files

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Last December, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR), and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube created a shared database of digital “fingerprints” associated  with violent terrorist images and videos that each of the partners had removed from their services. As of Monday morning, the database contains more than 40,000 of the fingerprints — hashes, in techspeak.

Members of the group contribute the hashes so that all other members may use them to identify and remove matching content from their own sites.

The founding four members also said that additional web services companies have recently joined the hash-sharing group: Ask.fm, Cloudinary, Instagram, Justpaste.it, LinkedIn (a Microsoft company), Oath (a Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) company) and Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP).

Since creating the consortium last year, the group has formalized its partnership as the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and began meeting with industry, government and nongovernmental organizations this past summer. According to Monday’s announcement:

The GIFCT is committed to working on technological solutions to help thwart terrorists’ use of our services, and has built on the groundwork laid by the EU Internet Forum, particularly through a shared industry hash database, where companies can create “digital fingerprints” for terrorist content and share it with participating companies. … It allows member companies to use those hashes to identify and remove matching content — videos and images — that violate our respective policies or, in some cases, block terrorist content before it is even posted.