The modern day tech ‘Big Four’ can now add combating extremism to their list of services. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have faced huge critique from political figures all over the world for their inaction in this regard. The opening title of the UK Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) report stated that the ‘richest social media companies are shamefully far from tackling illegal and dangerous content’. Twitter was mentioned as the worst culprit and it was stated that they maintained a ‘laissez faire’ approach.
The tech Big Four have now decided to tackle extremist propaganda on their platforms by investing up to £100 million towards this goal. Three main actions can be identified: investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI), creating anti-terror projects/competitions and granting anti-extremism charities grants.
By developing very intricate algorithms based on image recognition, AI is able to identify extremist content and have it removed instantly. Identification and the eventual removal of terrorist accounts, such as ISIS members, is also on the agenda. Along with AI, large companies are also creating competitions and projects to involve students. Facebook, for instance, held an anti-extremism campaign competition in July. Students from all over the world represented their universities, and joined the competition to come up with the best ways of combating online extremism.
The tech companies are also giving grants to anti-extremism organisations and charities. For many this has been a lifeline as UK home office funds simply can`t always support all organisations.
The UK government is working on reducing these risks in an ‘internet safety strategy’. Theresa May wants to work on a plan with French president Emmanuel Macron to penalize inaction by tech companies. The effects of this future law are still to be seen. Many have already criticised this approach for being intrusive.