Facebook, Twitter, YouTube pressed over terror content

Last year Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft banded together to share information on groups and posts related to violent extremism. (AFP)
Updated 17 January 2018
0

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube pressed over terror content

WASHINGTON: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were pressed in US Congress on Wednesday over their reliance on artificial intelligence and algorithms to keep their powerful platforms clear of violent extremist posts.
In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, executives of the world’s top social media companies were praised for their efforts so far to eliminate Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist content from the Internet.
But critics say that extremist groups continue to get their propaganda out to followers via those platforms, and call for tougher action.
Another concern is that the continued ability to use anonymous accounts, while benefiting pro-democracy activists battling repressive governments, will also continue to empower extremists.
“These platforms have created a new and stunningly effective way for nefarious actors to attack and to harm,” said Senator Ben Nelson.
The current efforts by the companies to remove content and cooperate with each other in doing so are strong but “not enough,” he said.
YouTube is automatically removing 98 percent of videos promoting violent extremism using algorithms, said Public Policy Director Juniper Downs.
But Senator John Thune, Chairman of the Commerce Committee, asked Downs why a video which showed the man who bombed the Manchester Arena in June 2017 how to build his bomb has repeatedly been uploaded to its website every time YouTube deletes it, as recently as this month.
“We are catching re-uploads of this video quickly and removing it as soon as those uploads are detected,” said Downs.
Carlos Monje, director of Public Policy and Philanthropy for Twitter, said that even with all their efforts to fight terror-and-hate-related content, “It is a cat-and-mouse game and we are constantly evolving to face the challenge.”
“Social media companies continue to get beat in part because they rely too heavily on technologists and technical detection to catch bad actors,” said Clint Watts, an expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in the use of the Internet by terror groups.
“Artificial intelligence and machine learning will greatly assist in cleaning up nefarious activity, but will for the near future fail to detect that which hasn’t been seen before.”
Last year Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft banded together to share information on groups and posts related to violent extremism, to help keep it off their sites.


Myanmar’s top court hears Reuters reporters’ appeal in official secrets case

Updated 26 March 2019
0

Myanmar’s top court hears Reuters reporters’ appeal in official secrets case

  • Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have spent more than 15 months in detention since they were arrested in December 2017
  • A judge found the two guilty under the Official Secrets Act last September and sentenced them to seven years in prison

NAYPYITAW: Myanmar’s Supreme Court heard the appeal on Tuesday of two Reuters journalists imprisoned for breaking a colonial-era official secrets law, in a case that has raised questions about Myanmar’s progress toward democracy.
Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have spent more than 15 months in detention since they were arrested in December 2017, while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslim civilians involving Myanmar soldiers.
A judge found the two guilty under the Official Secrets Act last September and sentenced them to seven years in prison.
Both remain separated from their young daughters. The wife of 32-year-old Wa Lone gave birth to their first child last year while Wa Lone was behind bars. Kyaw Soe Oo celebrated his 29th birthday in Yangon’s Insein jail this month.
“We are expecting to reunite as a family as soon as possible,” Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su Win, told reporters outside the Supreme Court compound in the capital, Naypyitaw, after Tuesday’s hearing. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not attend.
The reporters’ convictions were heavily criticized by press freedom advocates and Western diplomats, putting additional pressure on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who took power in 2016 amid a transition from military rule.
Suu Kyi said in September, the week after their conviction, that the reporters’ case had nothing to do with press freedom as the men had been jailed for handling official secrets, not because they were journalists.
“Myanmar’s Supreme Court has the opportunity to correct the serious miscarriage of justice inflicted on Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for the last 15 months,” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said in a statement.
“They are honest, admirable journalists who did not break the law, and they should be freed as a matter of urgency.”
Outlining their grounds of appeal, the reporters’ lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, cited lack of proof of a crime and evidence that the pair were set up by police.
After government law officer Ko Maung responded, Justice Soe Naing adjourned the case without giving a date for a ruling.
During eight months of hearings, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo testified that two policemen they had not met before handed them papers rolled up in a newspaper during a meeting at a Yangon restaurant on Dec. 12, 2017. Almost immediately afterwards, they said, they were bundled into a car by plainclothes officers.
A police captain testified that, prior to the restaurant meeting, a senior officer had ordered subordinates to plant documents on Wa Lone to “trap” the reporter.
The prosecution said the reporters were caught holding secret documents at a routine traffic stop.
The high court in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon rejected an earlier appeal in January.
Before their arrest, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State during an army crackdown that began in August 2017.
The operation sent more than 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh, according to United Nations estimates.