Unlocking the Opportunity of Technology to Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism and Assessing our Latest Progress
Today, GIFCT convenes its global community at it. s 2023 Global Summit. This annual event brings together our Members, Independent Advisory Committee, partner organizations, and stakeholders from industry, academia, civil society, and government. This year’s Global Summit marks three years operating as an independent nonprofit organization working to prevent terrorists and violent extremists from exploiting digital platforms in partnership with our 24 tech company members. We are grateful to our 2023 Operating Board Chair, Meta, for hosting this year’s Summit.
Growing Our Membership
Since GIFCT’s 2022 Global Summit, we’ve increased our membership from 18 to 24 tech companies who have committed to join our mission and work towards our vision of a world in which the technology sector marshals its collective creativity and capacity to render terrorists and violent extremists ineffective online. These six companies represent a diverse array of digital platforms – from audio, to gaming, to social media and communications services.
GIFCT maintains a rigorous set of criteria that companies must fulfill before they can become a member and that they must continue to adhere to over time. Our criteria is intended to maintain the integrity of GIFCT while we work to advance our mission, promote a culture of multi-stakeholder collaboration, and emphasize the complementary and mutually reinforcing nature of combating terrorism and violent extremism while ensuring respect for human rights. While GIFCT’s membership criteria aim to be approachable to tech companies operating a diverse set of digital platforms and online services, the efforts to fulfill the criteria are significant and rigorous such that member companies meaningfully contribute to the health and safety of the online ecosystem.
Tech companies who are members of GIFCT invest in policies, terms of service, and enforcement operations to counter terrorist and violent extremist activity on their platforms. These companies detail this work through public transparency reporting and commit to respect human rights in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
We are grateful to our partner Tech Against Terrorism (TAT) for their longstanding dedication to mentoring companies working towards GIFCT membership. TAT’s mentorship program aims to help tech companies build resilient processes and capacity to counter terrorist use of their platforms. More recently, we have introduced a final step to support companies joining our membership by collaborating with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). BSR engages directly with each company to support their efforts to uphold their commitment to respect human rights in accordance with the UNGPs. Centering our respect for fundamental and universal human rights in our membership criteria ensures that our work to develop technical solutions and resources is grounded in the values of our organization.
Tooling to Counter Terrorism
GIFCT in partnership with leading technology developers and counterterrorism experts is trialing new tech and breaking down barriers for companies of all sizes and services to counter and prevent terrorist and violent extremist exploitation. Three trials are currently underway with partners joining us at today’s Summit to explore their latest progress:
- Faculty AI and GIFCT are helping smaller content-hosting platforms access tools for moderating terrorist content by working with a community of technologists and cloud providers to develop a model that facilitates small platforms to access terrorism classification models at no cost.
- Tech Against Terrorism and Jigsaw are developing a new tool to help smaller websites identify and action terrorist content utilizing Tech Against Terrorism’s Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP). The new tool will ingest the URLs generated by TCAP and introduce a prioritization framework that will help smaller tech companies grapple with the large numbers of reported content they receive from different sources.
- Meta has made available a free open source software tool to help with hashing identified terrorist and violent extremist content and hash-matching to surface such content.
Technical tooling enables each member to strengthen its individual capacity to identify and counter attempts to exploit its platform, as well as our collective capacity to counter terrorist and violent extremist activity across the internet. This tooling is essential to combat terrorist and violent extremist attacks where perpetrators exploit platforms.
To date, GIFCT and our members have initiated communications to share situational awareness and information in response to over 306 terrorist or mass violence events and significant online terrorist developments in 44 countries across six continents. Since our Incident Response Framework (IRF) was put in place in 2019, GIFCT has activated the highest level of the IRF—the Content Incident Protocol—six times in response to the perpetrators of mass violent attacks livestreaming their violence. We have further activated the Content Incident level of the IRF once in response to the perpetrators and accomplices of an offline violent attack spreading a prerecorded violent video as propaganda.
It is through sustained efforts to test and strengthen our readiness, the commitment of our members, and our growing technical capacities that we see our tools, such as the hash-sharing database, and our systems, such as the Incident Response Framework, making meaningful strides to stem the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content and prevent further activity. With each step forward we make, adversaries will iterate their own tactics and we remain committed to studying the latest trends in this behavior and advancing our tactics and solutions.
The threat remains global and it is crucial that GIFCT continues to study adversarial threats in different world regions working with our members operating platforms with users worldwide. This is supported through our academic network, the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET), as well as through meaningful in-person engagements that over the last year have taken place in Ghana, Canada, and Singapore with partners and local experts.
We look forward to making today’s conversations meaningful to those joining us in California, as well as attending virtually. We are grateful to the experts and practitioners discussing the opportunity for technological advances, the online threat landscape’s relationship to different world regions, and the cross-sector collective efforts needed to respond to terrorist and violent extremist incidents. These meaningful dialogues continue to be invaluable in informing the future of GIFCT for its Members, its team of counterterrorist and technical experts, its governing bodies, and its global community of dedicated stakeholders. We look forward to seeing how today will shape our next chapter.