ICYMI: CEP Senior Advisor Dr. Hany Farid Featured in NPR, Guardian, Defense One Stories About Online Extremism

(New York, NY)Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Senior Advisor and Dartmouth College Computer Science Professor Dr. Hany Farid, the world’s foremost authority on hashing technology, was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR), the Guardian, and Defense One regarding an announcement by Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube (Google), and Twitter to cooperatively work in 2017 to identify and possibly remove certain extremist images and videos from their platforms.

In June, CEP and Dr. Farid announced a technology, eGLYPH, that is capable of detecting and removing extremist images, video, and audio content from Internet and social media platforms.

Dr. Farid indicated that the social media companies’ announcement could be a step forward, however, many questions remain to be answered concerning the program’s scope and transparency. Following are article excerpts:

NPR: Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube, which is owned by Google, have announced they are going to work together to identify extremist content. Hany Farid helped to build that technology. He's a computer scientist at Dartmouth and an advisor to the Counter Extremism Project. The nonprofit's been trying to get the internet companies to take action. And now, finally, Farid notes, they are changing their tune. “For years, they have said that this is technologically not feasible. That was absolutely not true. It's always been technologically feasible. And they've been dragging their feet for a long time, I think, and for too long - until the pressure simply mounted.”

Guardian: Earlier this year Dr. Hany Farid, the computer scientist who helped develop PhotoDNA, proposed a sister program for extremist content. He teamed up with the Counter Extremism Project to develop a system that could proactively flag extremist photos, videos and audio clips as they are posted online. “There needs to be complete transparency over how material makes it into this hashing database and you want people who have expertise in extremist content making sure it’s up to date," he said. “What we want is to eliminate this global megaphone that social media gives to groups like Isis. This doesn’t get done by writing a press release.”

Defense One: The Counter Extremism Project on Tuesday praised the move, if in tempered language. CEP Senior Advisor Dr. Hany Farid said that, even though it’s his technology that the companies would use, he heard about the final decision just 12 hours before the announcement. “I think, initially, Microsoft and Facebook said, ‘Yes, we want to do this with the [CEP].’ I think Google hemmed and hawed a little bit. Twitter really hemmed and hawed. I think this was the compromise. All the companies wanted everybody on board for political cover.”

 

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