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Google bans advertising alongside 'inflammatory religious or supremacist content'

Google announced it would add a new office building to a complex currently under development behind London's King's Cross train station
Leon Neal (AFP/File)
Previously the search engine has been accused by critics of 'profiting from terror'

Google has said that although "extremely violent" videos will be allowed to stay on the platform, advertising will not be sold to appear alongside them.

In an article published on the Financial Times website on Sunday, Google senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker said the internet giant will work alongside other companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Twitter, to “accelerate our joint efforts to tackle terrorism online.”

The company also announced that it would hire experts and increase the use of technology to identify terrorism-related videos. Social media network Facebook is experimenting with software which can understand language well enough to identify words or phrases praising or supporting terrorism, as well as identify when content which has been taken down previously, is re-posted.

Walker said that films which contain "inflammatory religious or supremacist content" will now be harder to find on the internet and will appear behind a warning. Furthermore, they will not have adverts, be recommended, or be open for comments or user endorsements. Previously the search engine has been accused by critics of "profiting from terror."

Walker said: "We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints."

The Reuters news agency reports that Google also plans to use targeted online advertising to reach potential Islamic State recruits and then redirect them to materials designed to change their minds.

Facebook on Thursday said it is ramping up the use of artificial intelligence in a push to make the social network "a hostile place" for extremists to spread messages of hate.

In a joint blog post, the social network's global policy management director Monika Bickert and counter-terrorism policy manager Brian Fishman said Facebook was committed to tackling the issue "head-on."

"In the wake of recent terror attacks, people have questioned the role of tech companies in fighting terrorism online," Bickert and Fishman said in the post.

"We want Facebook to be a hostile place for terrorists," they said, adding: "We believe technology, and Facebook, can be part of the solution."

European Union foreign ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Monday as part of efforts to work together to track returning jihadi fighters from Syria and Iraq. Ahead of the conference, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said that it was important that terrorists did not have a safe space online to plan attacks and share radical content.

In December 2017, Israeli ministers approved a bill that would allow a court to order sites such as Facebook and YouTube to remove material found to be "incitement," which they say contributes to Palestinian violence. The bill passed its first reading in January.

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