Google devotes 10,000 staff to stamping out extremist content
It seems 2017 followed in 2016’s footsteps on the generally disheartening politics front, not least of all when it came to vitriolic content on the internet – from the organisation of white supremacist rallies to Trump’s infamous, not to mention ill-advised, retweeting of Britain First. Thanks to Google, 2018 may be the breakaway year we so desperately need.
The company has pledged to commit over 10,000 staff to quashing extremist content on its video sharing platform YouTube. A feat with far-reaching consequences, what with the 2017 statistic that nearly one billion hours of video are watched on the site every day. YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, writing in the Telegraph, was steadfast in her commitment to the endeavour, saying the company was taking “aggressive action” on comments and accounts alike, with staff rooting out thousands of the former and hundreds of the latter.
Indeed, since June this year, YouTube has purportedly reviewed nearly two million videos for extremist content, and recently announced a donation of £1m ($1.3m) to fund anti-extremist projects in the UK. This follows hot on the heels of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, whose stance has been similarly unyielding: in September, she addressed the UN general assembly, imploring tech firms to root out and remove extremist material within just two hours. May has formerly been vocal on the need to end “safe spaces” enjoyed by terrorists online.
And it seems these demands are not going unacknowledged. YouTube has since been working with 15 new anti-extremist groups, from the No Hate Speech Movement to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Meanwhile, people who search for problematic keywords are automatically redirected towards a playlist of videos aiming to debunk violent extremist messages – infuriating for the perpetrators, one imagines.
And now the fresh wave of tech-world vigilance: 10,000 Google staff designated to root out extremist messages, putting an end to the culture of what Wojcicki deems “bad actors […] exploiting our openness to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm”. Here’s to 2018: making the internet great (or rather, devoid of terroristic material) again.