Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube announced Monday the formation of a forum to help make their "consumer services hostile to terrorists and violent extremists."
The four technology giants said the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism will formalize and structure existing and future areas of collaboration and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supranational bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations.
Facebook and Twitter are social media networks headquartered in San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California on the U.S. West Coast, YouTube is a video-sharing website headquartered in the same area, and Microsoft is the world's largest personal computer (PC) software publisher headquartered in Redmond, Washington state.
While the scope of the group's work is expected to evolve over time, they initially plan to focus on working together to refine and improve existing joint technical work, such as the Shared Industry Hash Database; exchanging best practices as they develop and implementing new content detection and classification techniques using machine learning; and defining standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals.
In addition, they promise to commission research to guide future technical and policy decisions around the removal of terrorist content, and work with counter-terrorism experts, including those with governments, civil society groups, academics and other companies, to engage in shared learning about terrorism.
Noting that "the spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all," they acknowledged in a statement that "the forum we have established allows us to learn from and contribute to one another's counter-speech efforts, and discuss how to further empower and train civil society organizations and individuals who may be engaged in similar work."