Video conferencing platform Zoom has joined a counterterrorism organization founded by major US tech companies, including Meta, formerly known as Facebook, and Microsoft, the group said Wednesday.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) is an independent group through which affiliated companies share information to combat terrorism and violent extremism on their sites.
Zoom, which has seen usage explode during the COVID-19 pandemic but has experienced slowing growth in recent months, has come under scrutiny over how to monitor content and abuse on its platform.
GIFCT’s founding members were Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Alphabet’s YouTube.
Membership has risen to 18 companies with five new platforms this year, including rental company Airbnb, social network Tumblr and online publishing platform WordPress. It said it has plans for more in 2022.
Technology companies have long been criticized for failing to curb violent extremist activity on their platforms, although they also have concerns about free speech.
GIFCT emerged in 2017 under pressure from the US and European governments after a series of deadly attacks in Paris and Brussels.
It operates a hash-sharing database, where affiliates can share “hashes,” unique numerical representations of original pieces of content removed from their services. Other companies may use these hashes to identify the same content on their sites and rate or remove the material.
“It is our responsibility to support our users and protect them from online threats,” said Josh Parecki, Zoom’s general counsel for trust and security, in a statement.
“By partnering with other industry leaders, sharing important lessons and advancing research, we strive to make the digital world a safer place for everyone.”
As individuals and businesses turned to video conferencing apps during the lockdown restrictions of COVID-19, Zoom faced high-profile content moderation issues.
These ranged from abuses such as “zoombombing”, in which uninvited users solicit others to share hate speech and racist, violent or pornographic content, to decisions such as canceling a virtual event with Leila Khaled, a member of a Palestinian group in the US. The list of terrorist organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nicholas Rasmussen, executive director of GIFCT, said in a statement that he was pleased to add Zoom as its mission “requires us to partner with a wide variety of companies … to develop cross-platform solutions that ineffective against terrorists and violent extremists.” make on the internet”.
GIFCT has been criticized by some human and digital rights advocates over centralized or overly broad censorship, and calls for greater transparency.
In July, the organization expanded the scope of its hash-sharing database to include attacker manifestos and other publications and URLs flagged by the UN Tech Against Terrorism initiative. It also said it would continue to expand the database with hashes of audio files or certain symbols.
GIFCT also said on Wednesday that it has designed a new membership structure based on corporate income, with proposed annual contributions ranging from $0 to $1 million (about Rs. 7.6 crore). It said membership was not dependent on a company’s earnings.
Other members include Meta’s Instagram and WhatsApp, Pinterest, Amazon, chat platform Discord and its file-sharing service, Dropbox. Other companies such as Reddit and Snapchat owner Snap also have access to the hash-sharing database.
© Thomson Reuters 2021