Internet giants — Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Amazon — came together to condemn online hate in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.
Executives of the companies made the statement while in France attending the Christchurch Call summit along with world leaders. The meeting aims to find ways to keep social media from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast terror attacks.
It takes place after 51 Muslims were killed in New Zealand in March while attending prayers at Christchurch mosques.
“The terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March were a horrifying tragedy. And so it is right that we come together, resolute in our commitment to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence,” the joint statement read.
The statement said that internet companies are committed to taking “concrete steps” to stop online abuse.
“Terrorism and violent extremism are complex societal problems that require an all-of-society response. For our part, the commitments we are making today will further strengthen the partnership that Governments, society and the technology industry must have to address this threat,” it added.
The companies made the statement while agreeing to a nine-point plan on how to curb online hate.
The plan includes individual actions each company will carry out within the organization:
- Creating better methods of reporting abuse or inappropriate content
- Enhancing technology that detects and removes problematic posts
- Establishing checks on livestreaming to prevent violent content from being featured online
- Publishing regular reports on content that is flagged and removed
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The companies also made joint commitments, saying they will work together to form solutions in four areas:
- Share technological developments with the other companies, governments and other interest groups that help detect and tackle online hate
- Create a uniform “crisis protocol” across companies, governments and other organizations so make sure there is an action plan in place for emergencies
- Educate other organizations, social media users on how to deal with online hate
- Study the root causes of online hate and extremism and promote respect
The joint statement comes as social media giants are facing increased scrutiny over how they handle online hate.
Facebook has faced much of the brunt in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks, which the shooter was able to livestream on the social media platform for several minutes.
On Wednesday, Facebook said it’s also investing $7.5 million in new research partnerships to improve image and video analysis technology aimed at finding content manipulated through editing to avoid detection by its automated systems.
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Facebook is also tightening its rules for livestreaming with a “one strike” policy applied to a broader range of offences.
Activity on the social network that violates its policies, such as sharing a terrorist group’s statement without providing context, will result in the user immediately being temporarily blocked. The most serious offences will result in a permanent ban.
— With files from the Associated Press
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