EX­TREM­ISTS US­ING YOUTUBE LESS, WATCH­DOG SAYS

Calgary Sun - - NEWS -

The use of YouTube as a des­ti­na­tion from which to spread ji­hadi ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda on­line is dra­mat­i­cally de­clin­ing, ac­cord­ing to an in­tel­li­gence group that tracks on­line ex­trem­ism.

New anal­y­sis of web links, con­ducted by the Site In­tel­li­gence Group, sug­gests Is­lamic State and al-Qaida con­tinue to value the file-host­ing ser­vices of Drop­box, Google Drive, and Google Pho­tos, how­ever, and re­main among the top-used ser­vices to store bat­tle footage, doc­u­men­tary-style pro­duc­tions, and video speeches.

Once up­loaded, links to this con­tent are typ­i­cally dis­sem­i­nated on so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Face­book, Twit­ter and Tele­gram Mes­sen­ger to reach as wide an au­di­ence as pos­si­ble.

“We con­demn in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms any ac­tiv­ity on our plat­form that pro­motes ter­ror­ism,” a Drop­box spokesman said, adding the com­pany re­moves such ma­te­rial when it finds it, and co­op­er­ates with law en­force­ment to sup­port in­ves­ti­ga­tions into its ori­gin.

Will McCants, Google’s lead on counter-ex­trem­ism, said he was “pleased to see this re­port de­tail the strong progress made on YouTube in tack­ling ter­ror­ist con­tent.” He said Google was us­ing the lat­est ad­vances in ma­chine learn­ing to stamp out ter­ror­ist con­tent across all its ser­vices. “There’s more to do, but we’re laser-fo­cused on get­ting this right across the board.”

The re­port by Site, which an­a­lyzed more than 27,000 web links be­tween April 1 and Au­gust 31 this year, comes as the Euro­pean Union pushes for new leg­is­la­tion to force in­ter­net com­pa­nies to wipe ter­ror con­tent from their ser­vices within an hour of be­ing no­ti­fied of it. They may face fines if they fail to do so.

Site’s anal­y­sis echoes re­search pub­lished by New York-based Flash­point in May, which sug­gested Is­lamic State had been more fre­quently utiliz­ing pre­served ver­sions of web pages on archival web­sites and on­line locker ser­vices.

Big tech plat­forms have made big strides in re­cent months in their ef­forts to tackle ter­ror con­tent, in large part thanks to au­to­mated tools that help to rapidly iden­tify bad con­tent. Those ef­forts have re­sulted in “a dra­matic shift away from YouTube” by the ter­ror groups, ac­cord­ing to Site, lead­ing the groups to in­crease reliance on other Google ser­vices.

The ji­hadi groups seek to stay a step ahead of con­tent dele­tions by pro­lif­er­at­ing their pro­pa­ganda across a wide va­ri­ety of file-host­ing plat­forms.

The trend high­lights the game of whack-a-mole that web firms and au­thor­i­ties must play in or­der to keep on top of the ter­ror groups’ ac­tiv­i­ties on­line.

We con­demn in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms any ac­tiv­ity on our plat­form that pro­motes ter­ror­ism.” drop­box spokesper­son

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