Snap Inc has joined the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which sees consumer internet companies cooperating to stop the spread of terrorism and extremism online. Facebook, Google and YouTube, Microsoft, and Twitter formed the GIFCT last month, and tomorrow it will host its first workshop with fellow tech companies plus government and non-governmental organizations.
The GIFCT started as an extension of the shared industry hash database that allows tech companies to share the digital fingerprints of extremist and terrorist content, such as photos and videos, so that once one identifies a piece of prohibited content, all the others can also block its upload. It’s almost like a vaccine program, where one company beats an infection, then share how to produce antibodies with the rest of the group.
In identical blog posts published by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Microsoft, the GIFCT wrote “Our mission is to substantially disrupt terrorists’ ability to use the Internet in furthering their causes, while also respecting human rights.”
The first GIFCT workshop, held in San Francisco on August 1st, will host the United Kingdom Home Secretary Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP and United States Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, plus representatives the European Union, United Nations, Australia and Canada. The event’s goal is to formalizing how the tech giants can collaborate with smaller companies, and what those companies would need as far as support to get involved.
In the coming months, the groups goals include adding three more tech companies to the hash sharing program beyond new members Snap and JustPaste.it, get 50 companies to share their best practices for countering extremism through the Tech Against Terrorism project, and plan four knowledge-sharing workshops.
It’s good to see Facebook and Snap putting aside their differences for a good cause. While Snap is notorious for its secrecy, and Facebook for its copying of competitors, the GIFCT sees them openly sharing data and strategies to limit the spread of terrorist propaganda online.