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Facebook and Google turn to automatic blocking to help combat extremist videos

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By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

June 27, 2016 | 3 min read

Facebook and YouTube have quietly started using automated systems to filter and block extremist content from appearing on their platforms.

Over the past few years, social networks have been coming under increasing pressure to moderate videos published to their websites in light of increasing use by terrorist groups such as Isis.

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Facebook and Google are trying to combat extremism on their platforms

Two sources familiar with the process have told Reuters that both Google-owned YouTube and Facebook are among sites now implementing systems to block or “rapidly take down” extremist material.

The technology used is similar to systems which identify copyright-protected content on video sites and scans videos for digital fingerprints – allowing all content with matching credentials to be removed quickly.

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In theory, the equipment could catch attempts to repost content which has already been flagged as extremist, but would not have the capacity to automatically block videos that haven’t been watched before.

Neither Facebook nor YouTube has confirmed the move and those familiar with the matter say that this is down to concerns that terrorists might learn how to manipulate systems or that the technology could fall into the hands of “repressive regimes” who could use it to censor opponents.

Facebook and Google were among those who met with senior White House officials and US intelligence agencies to help form counter-terrorism measures on social meeting at the start of this year.

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