UK and France Look To Fine Social Networks For Extremism

By Ian Morris on at

It's no surprise that the new breed of terrorists have taken to social media to spread their messages of hatred. Like any well-organised troupe of trolls, these cowards hide behind anonymous accounts and share their filth online with anyone who will listen. From videos aimed at recruitment to just flat-out terrifying murders, it all ends up online somewhere.

Now the French and British Governments are considering fining social media services for not tackling this kind of content, with Theresa May planning to discuss the measures with French president Emmanuel Macron later today.

Now, on the one hand, it's kind of nice to see them focusing on things that are genuinely troubling. Up until now the clueless grasping of lawmakers has led to suggestions that they would somehow "ban" encryption or insist that companies install backdoors in their devices to allow well-meaning government spies access to all your nudie pics.

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, are publishing content which is worrying. The removal of it won't solve the problem, but it will stop your average web user from seeing it by accident, and reduce the ease with which it can be accessed.

Presumably, the idea of fines is to galvanise the relevant networks into action. This also supposes that they aren't already doing things to reduce it. We do, however, know that there are ways to "game" sites like YouTube. Videos may be posted that contain only a description of how to get to another video. YouTube also doesn't take down videos that are unlisted in the same way, and people can't find unlisted videos as easily so won't report them.

Given that YouTube's pretty amazing at detecting the use of 30 seconds copyright material, you'd hope that it might be a little better at finding extreme content. Perhaps this is an area in which law enforcement might be able to help. It could alert YouTube to extreme videos and then the service could block them much as it does movies.

Of course, the concern is that some content might be objectionable to Kim Jong May - like her gobbling down that fish or the song that's mean about her. Will she try and have this content removed because it trips her offence circuits? One would hope not, but the dictatorship we're flailing toward might suggest otherwise. [via: The Verge]

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