GIFCT invests in the development and distribution of groundbreaking technological solutions to support member companies committed to preventing terrorist and violent extremists from exploiting their platforms while protecting human rights.
In 2017, the founding members of GIFCT spearheaded a shared, safe and secure industry database of “perceptual hashes” of known images and videos- produced by terrorist entities on the United Nations designated terrorist groups lists- which GIFCT members had removed from their services.
How does it work?
Digital signatures for an image or video, perceptual hashes are numerical representations of original content and cannot be reverse-engineered to recreate an image or video. To create a hash, a company converts images to black and white and resizes them so that they are identically formatted, then a mathematical procedure known as Discrete Cosine Transform is used to make a digital signature for the image – our hash. Hashes allow GIFCT members to quickly identify visually similar content which has been removed by one member, enabling it to be re-reviewed by other members to see if the content breaches their terms and conditions. All without sharing any user data between companies.
When our members review the content they have identified by hashes, they have the option to feed back to the system and tell us whether they agree or disagree that any one hash relates to terrorist activity, and to rate its severity.. At GIFCT, we respect that each member might operate a little differently. We don’t tell our members how to use the hashes or how to apply their own policies. Rather, we are here to help our members collaborate, and together we can make terrorists ineffective online.
At the beginning of 2021, GIFCT launched a multi-stakeholder effort to engage a wide range of experts on expanding the reach and impact of our hash-sharing database’s taxonomy in order to respond to terrorist content online across the ideological spectrum. We believe that our work must be complementary and mutually-reinforced with human rights and fundamental freedoms, starting with the material we recognize as terrorist content online. This six-month project resulted in a compilation report from international experts that will help shape and inform our strategy for thoughtful, deliberate, and practical broadening of our taxonomy framework over time.GIFCT Taxonomy Expansion
Expanding the taxonomy through this process means we can empower our members to combat a wider range of terrorist activity, address the Islamist extremist-bias that currently exists in the larger counterterrorism field, and remain diligent to impacts on the human rights of those most vulnerable in this context: both victims of terrorism and violent extremism and victims of efforts to address terrorism and violent extremism.
We will initially expand the hash-sharing database’s taxonomy with three new hashed categories, prioritized based on feedback from global experts, our Independent Advisory Committee, and our member companies about how the threat of this content manifests online:
- Manifestos from terrorist and violent extremist attackers in PDF form;
- Terrorist publications that use specific branding and logos for the organization in PDF form; and
- URLs identified by Tech Against Terrorism as where specific terrorist content exists that are often shared and amplified on other platforms
We will continue working to expand the reach and impact of the hash-sharing database’s taxonomy in order to respond to terrorist content online across the ideological spectrum while also working to bring greater transparency to this specific area of our work.
Terrorist content is increasingly shared on one platform with a link to content hosted on another platform. Companies only have jurisdiction to remove the primary source content from what is hosted on their services, meaning they can remove a post, but the source link and hosted content remains intact on the third party platform. In January 2019, GIFCT began a program to implement a link-sharing system of its own.
How does it work?
When a GIFCT company receives an indicator that the link leads to terrorist hosted content, the company now has a safe mechanism to share the URL links with the industry partner to whom the content belongs.
The one-to-one sharing allows the notified platform to review the link to decide if the content is violating its terms of service. GIFCT has adapted this program through a 12-month URL sharing pilot with SITE Intelligence, a firm that provides subscription-based monitoring and analysis regarding terrorist content and other online harms. The pilot project provided a subset of GIFCT members access to SITE’s SourceFeed, providing access to a dashboard assisting with extra context around a given URL including; organizational affiliation of the terrorist content and translation of content into English and further context support.