An organization used by the United States’ biggest tech monopolies, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft, will soon be targeting material from alleged white supremacists and far-right militias by “expanding the types of extremist content shared between firms in a key database,” according to Reuters.
In the past, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism’s database has focused primarily on videos and images from actual terrorist groups on a United Nations watch list and thus “has largely consisted of content from Islamist extremist organizations such as Islamic State, al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) will now be sharing “intelligence” gathered from right-wing accounts deemed to be “extremist,” Reuters reported.
Over the next few months, the group will add attacker manifestos – often shared by sympathizers after white supremacist violence – and other publications and links flagged by U.N. initiative Tech Against Terrorism. It will use lists from intelligence-sharing group Five Eyes, adding URLs and PDFs from more groups, including the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and neo-Nazis.
The firms, which include Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, share “hashes,” unique numerical representations of original pieces of content that have been removed from their services. Other platforms use these to identify the same content on their own sites in order to review or remove it.
The tech group wants to combat a wider range of threats, said GIFCT’s Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen in an interview with Reuters.
“Anyone looking at the terrorism or extremism landscape has to appreciate that there are other parts… that are demanding attention right now,” Rasmussen said, citing the threats of far-right or racially motivated violent extremism.
“Fourteen companies can access the GIFCT database, including Reddit, Snapchat-owner Snap (SNAP.N), Facebook-owned Instagram, Verizon Media, Microsoft’s LinkedIn, and file-sharing service Dropbox,” Reuters reported.
There was no mention in the report of a need to monitor left-wing extremist content even though leftist groups have a long, storied history of committing political violence in America. In 2020 alone, hundreds of incidents of left-wing political violence led to dozens of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage.
Yet, Reuters reported deceptively that “the issue of domestic extremism, including white supremacy and militia groups, took on renewed urgency following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.”
Of the five people who died on the day or soon after, four died of natural causes—three Trump supporters, and one Capitol Hill Police officer. The only person to be killed during the riot was unarmed U.S. Air Force vet Ashli Babbitt, who was shot in the neck by Capitol Hill Police Lt. Michael Byrd.
GIFCT was created in 2017 under pressure from U.S. and European governments after a series of deadly Islamic terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, according to Reuters.
This new crackdown comes after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing earlier this month that Biden administration officials are coordinating with Big Tech firms to crack down on vaccine “disinformation.”
“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” Psaki said on July 15.
“Big Tech has now become Big Brother,” Johnson (R-Wis.) told FOX Business. “It’s the Big Brother arm of big government and it should concern and frighten every American.”
In a letter to the president obtained by FOX Business, Johnson was joined by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and six more GOP members in expressing “deep concern” with the move.
The senators told the president in the letter, “We consider any efforts by the government to collude with social media in this manner to be a dangerous assault on Americans’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech.”
“We want to reiterate that the Administration should halt any actions it has or is currently undertaking to censor Americans’ speech.,” the letter reads. “Further, Congress and the American public must know how the Administration is carrying out this ‘flagging’ of American citizens’ speech.”
The senators then listed a slate of requests for the administration to provide to Congress by Aug. 9, 2021, including, “The name, employing agency or office, and the job title of each individual in the executive branch carrying out ‘disinformation’ research and tracking of social media platforms.” They also asked for all of the correspondence the administration has had with social media giants, a list of all the social media posts the administration determined should be flagged along with the justification, and how many taxpayer dollars have been spent on the Biden administration’s endeavor to tamp down “disinformation.”
“This is a dangerous assault on freedom of speech and Big Tech, the mainstream media and the administration have no credibility in determining what is and isn’t misinformation,” Johnson said.
It is outrageous the Biden administration is coordinating with Big Tech to infringe on American citizens’ First Amendment freedoms.https://t.co/pl3pgC0Ef8 https://t.co/bCVavjtq2v
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) July 26, 2021
Other Republican lawmakers and candidates took to Twitter Monday to condemn Big tech’s authoritarian crackdown on right-wing speech, including Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who said that he has already introduced six bipartisan bills to break up the “Big Tech’s monopoly power,” but needs support from other Republicans.
I have introduced six bipartisan bills that would break up Big Tech’s monopoly power. Republicans should join today to end the censorship. https://t.co/QaxG62yy2C
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) July 26, 2021
A serious government would stop this immediately.
Take note of the Republicans who are silent on this issue, same cowards who said nothing about the election or J6 narrative.
We will end this in 22’. The left knows this, that’s why they are moving so fast & w/so much force. https://t.co/REDqK49nfy
— Joe Kent for WA-3 (@joekent16jan19) July 26, 2021
Obvious pretext to suppress any dissent — you’ll be shocked at what views they consider “white supremacist” just one year from now. https://t.co/FBFvBsOxo4
— Blake Masters (@bgmasters) July 26, 2021
Remember that the ADL is now a joke of an organization that just goes after conservatives.
Repeat after me: the next stage of deplatforming will be denying access to the financial system. https://t.co/rRIuQl0Iot
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) July 26, 2021
This is not going to end well. https://t.co/Iq3KFwP4nd
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) July 26, 2021