Tech coalition expands tracking of extremist content

Tech coalition expands tracking of extremist content
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A counterterrorism organization made up of some of the biggest U.S. tech companies is expanding the kind of extremist content that it tracks.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism — which counts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube among its 17 member companies — said it will add manifestos, PDFs of terrorist publications and certain URLs to its database, which has so far focused on United Nations-designated terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS.

The expansion will include a greater focus on content from white supremacists.

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The organization announced the expansion of its database in a 177-page report Monday.

“Chief among the report’s findings was a widespread view among our stakeholder community that the narrow scope of the database reflects broader discrimination and bias in the counterterrorism field, specifically a disproportionate focus on Islamist extremist content rather than white supremacist content,” wrote the organization’s executive director, Nicholas Rasmussen, and chief of staff, Johannah Lowin.

The tech firms in the coalition share numerical representations of original content that has been pulled down, known as "hashes," making it easier to identify cross-platform content.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a nongovernmental organization, was created in 2017 under pressure from governments after a series of deadly attacks in Europe.

While it has focused primarily on Islamist terrorist content, the group has also collected digital evidence of some livestreamed attacks, such as the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.