Facebook Vows to Fight ISIS, Al Qaeda Terrorism With Artificial Intelligence

For the first time ever, Facebook has publicly committed to making sure the social network is a place where terrorist groups “like ISIS and Al Qaeda” do not “have a voice.”

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In a post on June 15 titled “Hard Questions,” two Facebook officials — a director of global policy management and a counterterrorism policy manager — outlined the company’s commitment to fight “terrorism online.” They plan to utilize a number of measures, including artificial intelligence, to stop terrorists from using the platform.

Our stance is simple: There’s no place on Facebook for terrorism. We remove terrorists and posts that support terrorism whenever we become aware of them. When we receive reports of potential terrorism posts, we review those reports urgently and with scrutiny. And in the rare cases when we uncover evidence of imminent harm, we promptly inform authorities. Although academic research finds that the radicalization of members of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda primarily occurs offline, we know that the internet does play a role — and we don’t want Facebook to be used for any terrorist activity whatsoever.

Facebook didn’t list any specific religion by name, but it did name ISIS and Al Qaeda, as well as “their affiliates.” These organizations promote terrorism in the name of Islam, while other terrorist groups (such as the Army of God) justify their violence with Christianity and others use no religion at all.

The social network said it expects to “expand to other terrorist organizations in due course.” Hopefully, there will be more public announcements on this in the near future.

Facebook’s AI will use image matching, language understanding, and cross-platform collaboration to halt terrorist cells. The company will also utilize “human expertise,” including hiring terrorism and safety specialists, according to the announcement.

We want Facebook to be a hostile place for terrorists. The challenge for online communities is the same as it is for real world communities — to get better at spotting the early signals before it’s too late. We are absolutely committed to keeping terrorism off our platform, and we’ll continue to share more about this work as it develops in the future.

As NBC has reported, Facebook’s announcement comes after a series of potentially ISIS-related attacks and amid growing pressure from officials in Europe. I just hope this same technology can be applied to all forms of terrorism, and not only those perpetrated by radical Islamic groups. When the problem is this widespread, we need solutions that protect victims of any and all forms of terrorism.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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