Z Zoom joins group to fight terrorism and violent extremism

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Z Zoom joins group to fight terrorism and violent extremism

The group said yesterday that Zoom has joined a counterterrorism organization, formed by major US tech companies including Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook and Microsoft.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism GIFCT is an independent group through which member companies can share information on their sites to fight terrorism and violent extremism.

The use of Zoom Video Communications, which saw usage explode during the COVID-19 epidemic but has had a slow growth in recent months, has come under scrutiny over how to police content and abuses on its platform.

Its membership has risen to 18 companies, with five new platforms joining this year, including Airbnb, the social network Tumblr and the online publishing platform WordPress. It said it plans to add more in 2022.

The tech companies have been criticised for not curbing violent extremist activity on their platforms, but they also have concerns over free expression.

GIFCT was created in 2017 under pressure from the US and European governments after a series of deadly attacks in Paris and Brussels.

It manages a hash-sharing database where member companies can share unique numerical representations of original pieces of content that have been removed from their services. Other companies can use these hashes to identify the same content on their sites and review or remove the material.

Josh Parecki, Zoom's associate general counsel for trust and safety, said in a statement that it is our responsibility to support our users and protect them against online threats.

We aspire to make the digital world a safer place by sharing key learnings and sharing key learnings with other leaders across the industry. When individuals and companies switched to video-conferencing apps during the COVID 19 lockdown restrictions, Zoom faced high-profile content moderation issues.

These ranged from abuses like zoombombing, where uninvited users crashed others' calls to share hate speech and racist, violent or pornographic content, to decisions like the cancellation of a virtual event featuring Leila Khaled, a member of a Palestinian group on the US State Department's list of terrorist organisations.

In a statement, GIFCT Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen said it was pleased to add Zoom as its mission requires us to work with a wide range of companies to develop cross-platform solutions that make terrorists and violent extremists ineffective across the internet. GIFCT has faced criticism from some human and digital rights advocates over over-broad censorship and calls for greater transparency.

In July, the organisation expanded the scope of its hash-sharing database to include attacker manifestos and other publications and URLs flagged by the United Nations initiative Tech Against Terrorism. It said it would continue to expand the database to include hashes of audio files or certain symbols.

On Wednesday, GIFCT designed a new membership structure based on company revenue with suggested annual contributions ranging from US $0 to US $1 million. It said membership was not dependent on a company's revenue.

Other members include Dropbox, Pinterest, Amazon.com, Instagram and WhatsApp, and the Discord chat platform. The Hash-sharing database can be accessed by other companies such as Snap and Reddit.