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Social Media Companies Join Forces to Take Down Terror Content

Some tech companies are joining forces to create a terror database.
Image: A user scrolls through a Twitter feed
A user scrolls through a Twitter feed.Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft are banding together to mount a terrorism takedown on their platforms.

The tech giants announced Monday they are working together to build a new database that will identify extremist content through a digital hash, which is sort of like a digital watermark.

The idea is that by sharing these hashes in a global database with their partners, it will be easier to identify and swiftly remove any terror content if it's also published to other platforms.

"We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online," a statement from the group said.

The four companies signed a voluntary pledge earlier this year in Europe, saying that they'd work to remove terror content within 24 hours.

The announcement of the database comes as the European Commission is set to release a report that the companies aren't completely holding up their end of the bargain.

"In practice the companies take longer and do not yet achieve this goal. They only reviewed 40 percent of the recorded cases in less than 24 hours," a Commission official told Reuters. "After 48 hours the figure is more than 80 percent. This shows that the target can realistically be achieved, but this will need much stronger efforts by the IT companies."

Twitter had become one of several online services used by ISIS to spread propaganda and recruit new members. Twitter responded by increasing the staff on its abuse reporting team and leveraging "proprietary spam-fighting tools" that are able to surface accounts that may violate Twitter's policies, the company said.

The investment appeared to be working. In, August, Twitter said it had suspended hundreds of thousands of accounts for promoting terrorism or issuing violent threats.

Related: Twitter Suspends 235,000 More Accounts in Terror Crackdown

In the future, the companies said they hoped the database could expand to include other online platforms, creating a powerful tool for fighting terror online.