Twitter and Google have agreed to conduct more policing of their platforms to prevent the proliferation of content created and posted by extremist groups. This comes after Indonesian authorities threatened to shutter messaging and social media apps in the event that they failed to prevent the spread of extremist content. According to Indonesia’s Information Technology Minister, Google will partner with a couple of non-governmental organizations based in the country to flag offensive videos that get posted on YouTube.
“Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all. Google and YouTube are committed to being part of the solution,” said Google’s Kent Walker in an interview with the Financial Times.
YouTube as a learning tool
According to Indonesian police, videos posted on YouTube have imparted to militants knowledge on how to make bombs. Telegram, the encrypted messaging application, has also been accused of promoting radicalism after it was purportedly used to provide instructions in recent attacks.
The flagging system which it is believed will be functioning fully in the next couple of weeks will be seeking to stem radicalism in the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. There has been a growing concern among authorities in Indonesia over the increase use of social media in spreading propaganda by extremist groups such as the Daesh (Arabic for Islamic State).
Selected volunteers will also be empowered to flag content which is deemed to be in violation of the community guidelines or terms of service in Indonesia. The search giant will give priority to reviewing content that has been flagged by its partners before determining whether it should be removed. Also being targeted in the new initiative are posts which inflame religious tensions as well as those that are meant to promote narcotics.
According to Google’s government affairs and policy regional director, Ann Levin, the system will be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia having only recently been introduced in some European countries and the United States. The new measures being taken to curb posts by extremist groups have, however, raised concern that it would result in the curtailing of expression in Indonesia.