During the UN General Assembly week, Tech Against Terrorism held a well-attended event in the New York Facebook offices – the fourth workshop in a month following San Francisco, Beirut and Dublin. The event brought together practitioners from a range of tech companies, members of the GIFCT, civil society, and specialists on violent extremist and terrorist groups. The aim of the startup workshop was to analyse trends in the exploitation of technology and to evaluate emerging solutions, for example promoting best practice community guidelines, transparency reports, and mechanism for addressing exploitation such as takedown, de-risking and counter-narrative.
The key issue that arose during the day was the level of adaptability of both far right and jihadist groups to adapt to new technologies and their resiliency to maintain an online presence despite efforts to disrupt them. As an alternative to content takedown, participants discussed counter-narratives to terrorist and violent extremist content that , will be counter the exploitation of technology, while also protecting freedom of expression.
The key recommendations that arose from the norms were that there needed to be a forum to encourage companies to seek advice over “grey content” whose legality is not immediately discernible. A leading ICC prosecutor warned tech companies of the legal implications of not preserving content that they remove and which could be subpoenaed for evidence in a trial. Advice from GIFCT focused on the importance on producing coherent internal guidelines to ensure consistency in content moderation and removal.
In the afternoon session with tech companies, the main challenge that arose was the capabilities of the tech companies to produce transparency reports, and the need to build tools to reduce the workload for the production of these reports. Participants discussed the challenges of producing transparency reports for companies with no internal legal or trust and safety teams, and how to phase reporting requirements depending on the size of the company. A tech representative also proposed that companies could use “best practice template transparency reports” to promote their engagement with preventing terrorist exploitation. In the Community Guidelines workshop, participants agreed that it would be useful for templates to be created specific to each type of technology.