Terrorist videos have come a long way from a camcorder in a cave. Today extremists can be sophisticated and savvy. They know where and when to upload their material to get maximum views and shares online. In fact, their steady stream of propaganda, recruitment material, and violent videos depicting beheadings can resemble a well-oiled marketing funnel.
This has become a major problem for tech giants and is topping the agenda for global governments. Efforts to address this issue have stepped up considerably this year:
8 months ago (February 2017)
The Times discovered that some of the world’s biggest brands were inadvertently funding terrorism by their online adverts being misplaced against extremist videos.
3 months ago (30 June 2017)
One year on since four social platforms voluntarily agreed to Europe’s Code of Conduct to remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours, Germany passed the ‘Network Enforcement Act’, leading to potential fines of €50 million if they fail to do so.
8 days ago (20 September 2017)
UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, told the United Nations that she is challenging social networks and search engines to find fixes to take down terrorist material in two hours.
Today (28 September 2017)
The European Commission presents guidelines and principles to help online platforms quickly and proactively prevent, detect and remove illegal content that incites hatred, violence and terrorism.
This weekend (1 October 2017)
Germany’s controversial ‘Network Enforcement Law’ comes into effect which provides $57-million-fines to companies who fail to take down ‘obviously illegal’ content within 24 hours.
But these government challenges are colossal – even for the tech giants of this world. And without technological innovation, these targets will be impossible.
Yesterday Crisp unveiled new technology called Capture, that helps social platforms identify new terrorist material on their platform, in minutes.
This technology is already being used by global social networks to detect hundreds of items of new terrorist content online each day. Capture monitors the most likely places that illegal content will be shared online. When it finds a suspected terrorist video, image, text or chatter, Capture reports the risky content to the social platform. The platform’s team then decide if the content breaks their guidelines, if it should be removed, and how quickly.
As the UK is currently under ‘severe’ threat from international terrorism (MI5’s second highest level), it seems only right that a UK company should take the lead on developing the technology to stop it.
Crisp’s Capture technology is currently discovering illegal content which falls into the following categories:
- 73% - non-distressing terrorist propaganda: images and videos which glorify or promote the terrorist cause, but without the use of extremely distressing material
- 15% - violent terrorist propaganda: beheadings and bloody gore resulting from terrorist activity shown in the context of glorifying or promoting the terrorist cause
- 8% - extremist Islamic preaching: videos and written pieces that preach an extreme version of Islam that are promoting hatred or violence against others
- 2% - instructional videos on terrorist devices: detailed instructions on how to create explosive, chemical devices or weaponry for use in terrorist acts
- 2% - incitements to commit terrorist acts: content that directly incites the audience to carry out terrorist acts that would result in the harm or death of members of the public.
Looking at the nature of the content that’s being identified and remembering the fact that each piece of content can be shared thousands of times, it’s clear why Crisp and European governments are taking such a hard line against extremist content online.