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Software ­nveiled to Tackle Online Extremism, Violence

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Using the new software tool.

A new software tool aims to help online firms quickly find and eliminate extremist content used to spread and incite violence and attacks.

Credit: Agence France-Presse

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a U.S. nonprofit nongovernmental organization aiming to curb the spread of violent, extremist propaganda online, has unveiled a software tool to help social media firms find and delete radical content.

The software was developed by Dartmouth University's Hany Farid, who also helped create the PhotoDNA system used to identify and eliminate child pornography online. Farid says the new system is based on "robust hashing," which finds digital signatures of content that can be tracked in order to help platforms find and stop content from being posted.

CEP proposes the creation of a National Office for Reporting Extremism, similar to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which would better enable violent content to be automatically flagged and removed.

"We are simply developing a technology that allows companies to accurately and effectively enforce their terms of service," Farid says. "They do it anyway, but it's slow."

CEP has pitched its system to social media firms, but none have committed to adopting the technology, citing privacy and enforcement concerns. 

"The technology has been developed, it has been tested, and we are in the final stages of engineering to get it ready for deployment," Farid notes. "We're talking about a matter of months."

From Agence France-Presse
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