Monday, Twitter announced it would come together with Facebook, Microsoft and YouTube to stop terrorist content online by creating a shared database of “‘hashes’ — unique digital ‘fingerprints’ — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services.” This announcement comes on the heels of a warning the EU issued those four companies—fix your hate speech problem or we’ll make you do it.
The European Commission released a report on Sunday that revealed Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Microsoft were not complying in a satisfactory manner with the EU’s code of conduct for addressing hate speech online. Vĕra Jourová, the EU commissioner for justice, told the Financial Times, “If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months.”
Ostensibly, this shared database of hashes is trying to be that quick and strong effort the EU asked for—though Twitter’s press release did not mention the European Union. “Each company will independently determine what image and video hashes to contribute to the shared database,” Twitter wrote. The separate companies, however, will maintain their unique policies when it comes to defining terrorist content and removing it from their platforms. The hashes will also be available for other companies to utilize on their platforms.
The European Commission will meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss its recent report on how the four companies deal with hate speech.