Prime Minister Theresa May has called on tech giants to do more in the fight to combat the rise of extremist content on the web and has challenged both search engines and social networks to remove any videos and resources that contain illegitimate content within two hours of them being posted.
The British Prime Minister was speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, when she and other world leaders met with senior executives from Microsoft, Facebook and Google. May hailed recent progress made by tech enterprises but believes that they must go “further and faster” to stop the spread of terrorist propaganda.
Data from the UK Home Office revealed that ISIS shared 27,000 links to different forms of extremist content between January and May this year and that the content remained available online for up to 36 hours on average. The Prime Minister has been vocal in her demands for an end to “safe spaces” online in the past and wants tech companies to develop artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to reduce take-down times.
“Terrorist groups are aware that links to their propaganda are being removed more quickly and are placing a greater emphasis on disseminating content at speed in order to stay ahead,” May said during a speech to the UN General Assembly. “Industry needs to go further and faster in automating the detection and removal of terrorist content online and developing technological solutions that prevent it being uploaded in the first place.”
Google said that it is doing everything that it can to remove extremist content but admitted that it cannot do this alone, stating that users and the UK Government could both help. It is in the best interests of social media platforms and search engines to only source high-quality content in order to protect not only users and the wider public but also brands and advertisers.
Facebook’s Director of Global Policy Management, Monika Bickert, said that AI investment would be vital for identifying terrorist imagery in real time so that it can stop uploads while also removing terrorist clusters and blocking new accounts created by repeat offenders. Tech giants now have a month to demonstrate their progress in combatting terrorist content ahead of the G7 meeting in Rome.