Jeff ParsonsWednesday 18 Sep 2019 10:34 am
The Met has joined up with the world’s largest social network to try and stop terrorists livestreaming their atrocities. Facebook is actively trying to clamp down on the content streamed across its platform while officers say they could be informed and alerted sooner.
The company says it will provide officers at the Met’s firearms training centres with body cameras, in a bid to help its artificial intelligence more accurately and rapidly identify videos of real-life first person shooter incidents. Facebook came under fire for the spread of a live stream video showing the New Zealand mosque shootings in March, which left 51 dead. The video was viewed fewer than 200 times during its live broadcast but was watched about 4,000 times in total before being removed.
Facebook largely relies on AI to spot violating content and remove it as quickly as possible, but in the case of the Christchurch terrorist attack, it says it simply did not have enough first-person footage of violent events for the system to match it up against.
Therefore it has approached the Met to increase the number of images needed to train its machine learning tools.
The global effort is part of a wider clampdown on real-world harm from manifesting on social media, with the Home Office sharing the footage with other technology companies to develop similar solutions.
‘The technology Facebook is seeking to create could help identify firearms attacks in their early stages and potentially assist police across the world in their response to such incidents,’ said Neil Basu, assistant commissioner for specialist operations, the UK’s top-ranking counter terrorism police officer. ‘Technology that automatically stops live streaming of attacks once identified, would also significantly help prevent the glorification of such acts and the promotion of the toxic ideologies that drive them.
‘We welcome such efforts to prevent terrorism and its glorification and are happy to help develop this technology.’ This will also help it avoid incorrectly detecting other types of footage such as fictional content from movies or video games, the social network said. The project – which also includes Instagram – will begin from October with the Met’s Firearms Command, who regularly train in how to respond to incidents from terrorism to hostage situations.
Videos, like the one below from the Las Vegas police department, will likely help the social network understand the kinds of things to look for.
Facebook says it has banned more than 200 white supremacist organisations from its platform, as well as removing more than 26 million pieces of content in the last two years related to global terrorist groups like Isis and al-Qaeda. However, the company warns that it must stay ahead of bad actors who will continue to try new tactics.
‘Facebook’s work tackling threats from terrorism and extremism never stops,’ said Stephanie McCourt, law enforcement outreach lead for Facebook’s UK operations. ‘We invest heavily in people and technology to keep people safe on our platforms. But we can’t do it alone.’ ‘This partnership with the Met Police will help train our AI systems with the volume of data needed to identify these incidents. And we will remain committed to improving our detection abilities and keeping harmful content off Facebook.’
In May, the social network – along with Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Twitter – agreed on a nine-point plan of action following a meeting with world leaders and tech firms in Paris named the Christchurch Call to Action.
Home Office Security Minister, Brandon Lewis, said: ‘I’m pleased to see the Metropolitan Police working with Facebook as it looks to improve the technology that can identify and act on these horrific videos. ‘But I’m clear more needs to be done to stop the spread of terrorist content online and the Government will continue working with the ‘Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism’ to improve the response across the technology industry.’