Facebook taps London police to track terror livestreams | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 19, 2019

Facebook taps London police to track terror livestreams

Facebook on Tuesday teamed up with the London police as part of a ramped-up effort to thwart live-streams of terror attacks such as the New Zealand mosque massacre.

A self-professed white supremacist used a head-mounted camera in March to broadcast live footage on Facebook of him attacking two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

The alliance announced on Tuesday was described as a new collaboration with crime fighters to train software to more quickly spot and filter violent imagery fed to the platform by “dangerous” groups or individuals.

“The video of the attack in Christchurch did not prompt our automatic detection systems because we did not have enough content depicting first-person footage of violent events to effectively train our machine learning technology,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“That’s why we’re working with government and law enforcement officials in the US and UK to obtain camera footage from their firearms training programs -- providing a valuable source of data to train our systems.”

Facebook and platforms such as YouTube came under intense criticism for initially failing to detect the broadcast and then struggling to take down its uploads that proliferated online.

New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and other world leaders in May launched a “Christchurch Call to Action” against online extremism -- a campaign major platforms joined later that month.

The California-based social media behemoth said it was updating and refining its policies for dealing with extremism and online hate.

“Some of these changes predate the tragic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, but that attack, and the global response to it in the form of the Christchurch Call to Action, has strongly influenced the recent updates to our policies and their enforcement,” Facebook said.

In the absence of a globally accepted definition of what a terrorist organization is, Facebook developed its own with input from counter-terrorism, humanitarian law, police, and human rights experts.

“The updated definition still focuses on the behavior, not ideology, of groups,” Facebook said.

While the prior definition focused on acts of violence intended to achieve a political or ideological aim, Facebook’s new definition includes attempts at violence, particularly when directed toward civilians with the intent to coerce and intimidate. 

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