Google prom­ises YouTube crack­down on ex­trem­ism

South Florida Times - - BUSINESS - As­so­ci­ated Press Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May

SAN FRAN­CISCO - Google is promis­ing to be more vigilant about pre­vent­ing ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda and other ex­trem­ist videos from ap­pear­ing on its YouTube site amid in­ten­si­fy­ing crit­i­cism about the in­ter­net's role in mass vi­o­lence.

Its crack­down will in­volve both com­puter pro­grams and an ex­panded group of peo­ple ded­i­cated to iden­ti­fy­ing videos pro­mot­ing ter­ror­ism so they can be blocked from ap­pear­ing on YouTube or quickly re­moved.

Google is mak­ing the com­mit­ment in the wake of vi­o­lent at­tacks in the U.S. and else­where. A van struck a crowd of peo­ple out­side a Lon­don mosque Sun­day, the sec­ond time an au­to­mo­bile was used as a weapon in that city this month, and less than a week af­ter a gun­man at­tacked GOP law­mak­ers on a base­ball field.

And ear­lier this month, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May called on gov­ern­ments to form in­ter­na­tional agree­ments to pre­vent the spread of ex­trem­ism on­line. Some pro­posed mea­sures would hold com­pa­nies legally ac­count­able for the ma­te­rial posted on their sites, a li­a­bil­ity that Google and other in­ter­net com­pa­nies are try­ing to avert.

To­ward that end, Face­book last week pledged to use more ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and more than 150 hu­man re­view­ers to find and re­move ter­ror­ist con­tent be­fore peo­ple see it on its so­cial net­work­ing site.

Although Google said in a blog post that it is been try­ing to block ex­trem­ist con­tent for years, its gen­eral coun­sel Kent Walker wrote that “the un­com­fort­able truth is that we, as an in­dus­try, must ac­knowl­edge that more needs to be done. Now.”

Anti-hate groups like the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter have skew­ered Google and Face­book for do­ing too lit­tle to muz­zle hate groups on­line.

Google, along with other com­pa­nies such as Face­book, Mi­crosoft and Twit­ter, re­cently agreed to cre­ate an in­ter­na­tional fo­rum to share and de­velop tech­nol­ogy, sup­port smaller busi­nesses and speed up their joint ef­forts against on­line ter­ror­ism. To step up its polic­ing ef­forts, Google will nearly dou­ble the num­ber of in­de­pen­dent ex­perts it uses to flag prob­lem­atic con­tent and ex­pand its work with counter-ex­trem­ist groups to help iden­tify con­tent that may be used to rad­i­cal­ize and re­cruit ter­ror­ists.

The Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, com­pany will also train more peo­ple to iden­tify and re­move ex­trem­ist and ter­ror­ism-re­lated con­tent faster.

Google also is tak­ing a tougher stance on videos that don't clearly vi­o­late its poli­cies but still of­fend broad swaths of so­ci­ety, like those that con­tain in­flam­ma­tory re­li­gious or su­prem­a­cist con­tent.YouTube won't re­move those videos, but view­ers will first have to click through an “in­ter­sti­tial” warn­ing in order to see them.

Google also won't sell ads along­side this cat­e­gory of ob­jec­tion­able video to re­duce the mon­ey­mak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for their cre­ators. Th­ese ini­tia­tives could help Google woo back ma­jor ad­ver­tis­ers who be­gan pulling back from YouTube ear­lier this year af­ter learn­ing that their brands some­times ap­peared next to un­sa­vory videos.

YouTube also won't rec­om­mend th­ese videos to its users, and it won't al­low YouTube users to en­dorse them or leave com­ments - all ef­forts aimed at lim­it­ing their pop­u­lar­ity.

Google is also team­ing up with Jig­saw, a com­pany also owned by its cor­po­rate par­ent Al­pha­bet Inc., to tar­get on­line ads at po­ten­tial Isis re­cruits in hopes of di­vert­ing them to anti-ter­ror­ist videos.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF ABOVEWHISPERS

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