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Meta Shares Tool to Detect Terrorist Content Online

Meta is rolling out new counter-terrorism software tool in January that will be available to a wide range of online companies.

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Meta is introducing a new counter terrorism software
Photo: Kelly Sullivan (Getty Images)

Meta is introducing a new counter-terrorism tool. The news comes as the company will become chair of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT)’s Operating Board next month. The GIFCT was founded by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube in 2017 and has since become a non-governmental organization (NGO) to tackle terrorism and violent extremism content online.

The social media company says it’s introducing the Hasher-Matcher-Actioner (HMA) tool that will be free for a wide range of companies to adopt in an effort to combat the spread of terrorist content online. The news comes as Meta has vowed to increase content moderation on its platform.

“Meta’s commitment to tackling terrorist content is part of a wider approach to protecting users from harmful content on our services. We’re a pioneer in developing AI technology to remove hateful content at scale,” said Meta’s President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg in a news release.

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He continued, “We’ve learned over many years that if you run a social media operation at scale, you have to create rules and processes that are as transparent and evenly applied as possible.”

HMA will build on Meta’s previous open-source imaging and video-matching software and can be used against any type of content that violates the company’s policies. Ideally, the tool will allow content to quickly be addressed and taken offline if need be—when used across multiple platforms.

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The HMA will use hashes, or a digital fingerprint to find duplicated images, making it easier for companies to track and remove terrorist-related content. The videos are then run through an algorithm that develops a series of letters or numbers specific to that image.

Meta’s HMA will be a free, open-source content moderation software tool “that will help platforms identify copies of images or videos and take action against them en masse,” Clegg said in the release.

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Meta reported it spent $5 billion globally on safety and security measures last year and has more than 40,000 employees working in that area. The company also says they have hundreds of employees within that group that have experience in law enforcement, national security, counterterrorism intelligence, and academic studies in radicalization working to enhance online safety.

Dina Hussein, Counterterrorism & Dangerous Organizations Policy Lead at Meta, told ABC News that sharing Meta’s Hasher-Matcher-Actioner tool with other platforms would increasingly benefit internet platforms. “What we’re hoping to do, is lift up our baseline best practices for the entire industry,” Hussein said.

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She added, “as long as this kind of content exists in the world, it’ll manifest on the internet. And it’s only through collectively working together that we can really keep this content off the internet.”

Meta and GIFCT will release the HMA to companies beginning in January.