Facebook wants to use artificial intelligence to block terrorists online

Screen grab taken from You Tube from undated footage issued by Islamic State militants showing a masked jihadi with a British accent mocking David Cameron in a purported new Islamic State video showing the execution of five men accused of being spies for

Facebook officials said in a blog post Thursday that the company uses AI to find and remove "terrorist content" immediately, before users see it. Other questions, he said, include: "Is social media good for democracy?"

Artificial intelligence can't do the job alone, so Facebook says it has amassed a team of 150, including counterterrorism experts, who are dedicated to tracking and taking down propaganda and other materials. The first post addresses how the company responds to the spread of terrorism online. "This work is never finished because it is adversarial, and the terrorists are continuously evolving their methods, too", Bickert and Fishman concede. This is a departure from Facebook's earlier practice of relying on users to flag suspect content for removal.

Artificial intelligence will largely be used in conjunction with human moderators who review content on a case-by-case basis.

As Facebook continues to face criticism over how it handles terrorist propaganda, the company is detailing its process for countering radicalization and other threats. "What we see is terrorist actors and their supporters start to understand the kind of things that we're doing and they try to change what they do and we have to be reactive to that".

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said that it is focusing on "cutting edge techniques" to fight terrorist content about ISIS, Al Qaeda and their affiliates on its social networking site.

The new algorithms have helped the company to "dramatically reduce the time period that terrorist recidivist accounts are on" the social networking site.

The ability of so-called Islamic State to use technology to radicalise and recruit people has raised major questions for the large technology companies.

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Video fingerprinting called "hashes" are being used to help Facebook's algorithms find and ultimately terminate extremist videos before they're ever posted or made public.

WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption, however, means that Facebook has no access to the content of most messages and it can't deploy the same image and text analysis tools.

Digital media and tech companies have faced criticism (as well as legal tussles) over their use of encryption software, which makes it hard for government authorities to monitor the communications between groups they deem to be extremist. And in December, the social network partnered with other tech companies, including Twitter, Microsoft and Google-owned YouTube, to create an industry database that records the digital fingerprints of terrorist organizations.

One tool it's been using for months combs its site for known terror imagery to stop it from being reposted, though it can't identify new violent videos, while another looks to stop propagandists from opening new accounts after their old ones are disabled.

In the post, Bickert and Fishman admit "AI can't catch everything".

"We want to be very open with our community about what we're trying to do to make sure that Facebook is a really hostile environment for terror groups", Monika Bickert, director of global policy management at Facebook, told the BBC.

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