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Google creates a free tool to moderate terrorism for smaller websites

Since the UK and the EU have recently passed laws mandating that Internet businesses do more to handle unlawful content, Google is launching a free moderation tool that smaller websites may use to identify and delete terrorist material.

The programme is being created by the search giant’s R&D arm Jigsaw and the United Nations-backed organisation Internet Against Extremism, which works with the tech industry to combat online terrorism.

“Many online communities just lack the manpower necessary to carry out necessary policing. “It’s really time-consuming to design the algorithms, and then you need all those human reviewers,” said Yasmin Green, CEO of Jigsaw.

She also said, “There is a tonne of Isis stuff all over [smaller websites], even if they do not want it there.”

This comes as regulations like the EU’s Digital Services Act (which went into effect in November) and the UK’s Online Safety bill (which is slated to become law this year) require Internet businesses to remove extremist content from their platforms or face fines and other penalties.

Politicians and authorities from all around Europe have been lobbying for this legislation on the grounds that Big Tech companies aren’t doing enough to monitor their platforms.

However, concerns have been raised that smaller start-ups lack the resources to compete with larger technological corporations in light of the new regulatory system.

Adding to this, Green said, “I have witnessed a major change in the [top] platforms being much more successful at filtering, and that drives terrorist content and Covid fake claims to [other sites].”

In 2021, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism predicted that 6% of Facebook postings will contain terrorist or extremist content. This number might reach as high as 5,000, or 50% of all material, on more compact systems.

The non-governmental group GIFCT, which was created in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube to encourage collaborations between various internet platforms, is backing Jigsaw’s initiative. The non-governmental organization’s membership of technology businesses maintains a database of terrorist content that may be used by moderation systems to identify pre-existing contents.

For other platforms to use in matching terror content to current photographs or videos in the database and highlighting it for immediate human inspection, Facebook and Instagram owner Meta announced open-source software on December 13.

Jigsaw’s programme is designed to assist human moderators in making calls on potentially harmful or unlawful content. At the start of this year, testing will commence with two unidentified locations.

According to Tech Against Terrorism director Adam Hadley, “in our experience, we find that terrorists want to use smaller platforms where content filtering is tough owing to low resources.”

Jigsaw employs over 70 people, most of whom are stationed at Google’s New York headquarters. In July, after Green had been CEO for a few months, he said that the division was losing money and would not be turning a profit anytime soon.