Google debuts new measures to curb extremist videos on YouTube

Google has announced the introduction of four new measures to curb the spread of terrorist content on YouTube. (File photo: AP)
Updated 19 June 2017
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Google debuts new measures to curb extremist videos on YouTube

DUBAI: Google has announced the introduction of four new measures to curb the spread of terrorist content on YouTube, saying more immediate action needs to be taken to face the challenge posed by such material.
The internet giant, which owns video-sharing site YouTube, said it would take a tougher position on videos containing supremacist or inflammatory religious content by issuing a warning and not monetizing or recommending them for user endorsements, even if they do not clearly violate its policies.
In a blogpost, Kent Walker, senior vice-president and general counsel at Google, said “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.
“While we and others have worked for years to identify and remove content that violates our policies, the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now,” he added.
Walker went on to outline the new measures that will be taken to counter the spread of inflammatory content online.
Firstly, Google will increase its use of technology to help identify extremist and terrorism-related videos.
“This can be challenging: a video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting if broadcast by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user… We will now devote more engineering resources to apply our most advanced machine learning research to train new ‘content classifiers’ to help us more quickly identify and remove extremist and terrorism-related content,” Walker wrote.
Secondly, “we will greatly increase the number of independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger program,” Walker noted.
“Machines can help identify problematic videos, but human experts still play a role in nuanced decisions about the line between violent propaganda and religious or newsworthy speech.”
Walker also said a tougher stance would be taken on videos that do not clearly violate Google’s and YouTube’s policies — for example, videos that contain inflammatory religious content.
In the future, “these will appear behind an interstitial warning and they will not be monetized, recommended or eligible for comments or user endorsements. That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find.”
Lastly, Google will expand its collaboration with counter-extremist groups to identify content that may be used to radicalize and recruit extremists, it said.
The company will also reach potential Daesh recruits through targeted online advertising and redirect them towards anti-terrorist videos in a bid to change their minds about joining.
— With Reuters


Barack and Michelle’s next act: TV deal with Netflix

Updated 22 May 2018
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Barack and Michelle’s next act: TV deal with Netflix

  • The Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others
  • Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the option to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films

LOS ANGELES: Former US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, have struck a deal to produce films and series for Netflix Inc, the streaming service said on Monday, giving the former first couple a powerful and unprecedented platform to shape their post-White House legacy.
Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the option to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films, Netflix said in a statement.
The Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others, said a person familiar with the deal.
Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed and the first of the programming is not expected to reach viewers until about May 2019, the person said.
The agreement between the Obamas and Netflix, which boasts some 125 million subscribers worldwide, is a first for any occupant of the White House.
The closest comparison is former US Vice President Al Gore, whose global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Oscar in 2007. Gore also launched a youth-oriented cable TV network, Current TV, in 2005 but it was sold to Middle-East based Al Jazeera in 2013, which later shut it down.
The Obamas gave no details of the topics they planned to cover but the content is not expected to be directly political.
Barack Obama in a statement recalled the “fascinating people” from all walks of life that he had met during his eight years in office, ending in January 2017.
“We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world,” he added.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement that the Obamas are “uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better.”
The deal with the Obamas also marks one of the biggest coups for Netflix in drawing top-level talent away from traditional Hollywood studios and television networks.
In the past year, Netflix has cut deals with Shonda Rhimes, the woman behind hits like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and Emmy-winning Ryan Murphy, who created “Glee” and directed the TV series “American Crime Story.”
Netflix, which has budgeted $8 billion for programming in 2018, is also producing Martin Scorsese’s next film starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Barack Obama was the first guest on David Letterman’s return to television in an extended talk show format with Netflix that debuted in January.