Microsoft and other tech giants form group to counter extremist content online

Microsoft logo at Ignite
Microsoft logo at Ignite (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Tech and social media giants have created a new group to work together in fighting terrorist and extremist content online.
  • Dubbed "Christchurch Call," the group's name is derived from the recent terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • The group's supporters include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook.

Tech giants are joining hands in the fight to counter violent content online. Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter issued a joint statement today (opens in new tab) announcing The Christchurch Call – named for the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand – as a group dedicated to the goal of "[eliminating] terrorist and violent extremist content online."

"The terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March were a horrifying tragedy," the companies said in a joint statement. "And so it is right that we come together, resolute in our commitment to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence."

The formation of the Christchurch Call will expand on the work the companies have already been doing through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). For Microsoft in particular, this is the culmination of a call to action that Microsoft President Brad Smith initiated in March, shortly after the Christchurch attack.

As part of the group's formation, the companies involved outlined a nine-step plan (opens in new tab) to support their mission. The plan involves everything from education and transparency reports to working collaboratively to develop open source and AI tools to detect and remove extremist content.

"Terrorism and violent extremism are complex societal problems that require an all-of-society response," the companies said. "For our part, the commitments we are making today will further strengthen the partnership that Governments, society and the technology industry must have to address this threat."

This is an important step following the Christchurch attack, as video from the attack was posted and shared more than 1.5 million times on Facebook in the first 24 hours alone. As Smith argued in his blog post calling for more collaboration between tech companies in the wake of the attack, competition is "indispensable to a vibrant technology sector," cooperation is necessary when circumstances like these present themselves.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Guess the Democratic Party will be banned.
  • Wrong party! Haha
  • LOL you guys try so hard.
  • Sounds good on paper but when it comes to U.S. politics they better not show bias. Both primary parties have equally awful, extremist wings. Not holding my breath tbh.
  • Still it seems better to try and fail than to do nothing
  • This "both sides" narrative is lazy and tiresome, only one side has actual Nazis. If policies enacted to combat hate online disproportionately effects one party, maybe there's something wrong with the party?
  • Are there really any "actual Nazis" around these days? Anyhow, the KKK endorsed Clinton.
  • And who gets to decide who an "extremist" is? The CEO? The SPLC? The ACLU? Some governing body? Whoever happens to be in power at the time? This is "good" censorship. "Healthy" censorship. People need to be protected from their own choices. Less information is always better, and has never led to anything bad. What could possibly go wrong!
  • I mean you kinda just did..
  • Name just one person in history who killed people in the name of Jesus shouting JESUS IS LORD.
  • Let's see government will regulate these companies, so in the end it will be the government, they just get to blame it on the "free market". An easy way around that pesky thing called the constitution. Trading freedom for security will end with neither.
  • Why is your freedom more important than the people getting shot by extremists?
  • What a very totalitarian comment! You'd have been right at home in 1940s Germany with that attitude.
  • Keep defending the "rights" of ****'s to spew hate on private calling someone else a ****.
  • L O L
  • Try reading the Constitution before you spout this nonsense. Private companies are allowed to regulate their own private platforms, you don't have Constitutional right to use Facebook.
  • Regardless of the law it is censorship. This is fundamentally a bad ideal. People should know who the crazy people are so they can stay away from them.
  • Do you care that much about Facebook? Use something else. Nobody needs to live by your ideals and nobody really does--not even you. Unless you're writing this from some mythical magical right-libertarian island not owned by a government using unmonitored internet. Oh wait-you're writing this on Windows Central (that does censor) and I don't see you complaining about that. Funny how you only complain when it's terrorist and extremist content being talked about.
    All of our ideals have exceptional circumstances that require exceptional treatment. Get over it.
    Re: "people should know who the crazy people are" - stop assuming that everyone is equally intelligent and that charismatic inciters of violence aren't threats to the public.
  • According to a federal court in NY it kinda is. But companies like Twitter and Facebook are already granted privileges in section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that should be withdrawn if they continue down their current road where they act more as publishers than platforms.
  • You've already traded many of them. Don't be inconsistent. Go live in a privately owned land that's not US territory and you have full control over if you don't want to trade freedom for security. Until then, you're a hypocrite who only selectively uses this argument.
  • How about you go live in a different country if you want to trade freedom for security? North Korea must be a dream come true for you.
  • Now it works like: "Everything allowed that don't recognize our AI-systems until some angry crowd report you. We will ban you after because it's much easy for us than clarifying the situation and get some publicity in the media. And don't try to fight with us, our rules are fuzzy and we reserve the right to bans you without explaining the reasons"
  • Don't act like some ideas aren't almost universally agreeable as extremist and terrorist. Or as if every "choice" is made the same. If your "choice" is to incite violence in the masses using social media on privately owned platforms, those platforms have the full right (all by conservative ideology, by the way, as private rights matter) to get you off their platform. Go build your own. Nothing stops it. Or does it and you recognize the shortcomings of a mythical and magical free market now?
  • This isn't going to go well.
  • What's your suggestion? What should we do about extremist content and recruitment on tech platforms?
  • How about you go after the root of it instead of the symptom?
  • Oh gawd lol
  • Subscribe to PewDiePie
  • High quality contribution to the discourse. Also, nice dogwhistle.
  • Am I the only person who thinks this is a bad thing? I mean, I'm all for weeding out extremist talk from anyone, but just up and deleting that information rather than passing it on to the relevant authorities kinda means that things will just siphon underground and then we won't have the ability to potentially see an attack coming. Obviously videos and stuff, 100% should be pulled straight away, but also then passed on to whoever can deal with the threat.
  • no you're not. I don't like the idea of it. I mean look at Twitter, Facebook.
  • I don't think this specifies they won't pass it on. They're not expunging it. They're removing it from public view. Much of problematic content like child porn is still passed on to the authorities by Facebook when discovered AND deleted from public view.
  • Why is it called the "Christchurch Call"? Why not "Sri Lanka Call", "Bataclan Call", "7/7 Call", "Nigeria Call", "9/11 Call", "Manchester Call", or "Any of the 35K call"?