The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism Goes Independent

The organization updated its response to the Christchurch Call to Action

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism was established in August 2017 by Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which was established in August 2017 by Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter, provided a progress update Monday on its commitments to the Christchurch Call to Action.

The Christchurch Call to Action is a nine-point plan that was agreed to by tech companies, local governments and the European Union in May following March’s terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the subsequent spreading of livestreams and videos of the attack.

In the GIFCT’s last update, in July, it pledged to add crisis response to its work, as part of its response to the Christchurch Call to Action, and it welcomed Pinterest and Dropbox as members.

Members of the GIFCT met with government leaders at the United Nations General Assembly Monday, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, where they shared their update.

The GIFCT will become an independent organization, led by an executive director and supported by teams dedicated to technology, counterterrorism and operations.

The organization said the change from operating as a consortium of member companies will enable it to build on its early work and deepen collaboration with experts, partners and government stakeholders.

The GIFCT wrote, “The new, independent GIFCT will integrate its existing work to develop technology, cultivate strong corporate policies and sponsor research with efforts to fulfill commitments in the nine-point action plan released after the Christchurch Call. More important, it will institutionalize the spirit of shared purpose that the Call represents. The GIFCT has made significant achievements since it was founded in 2017, and it worked closely with a range of governments, particularly under the auspices of the European Union Internet Forum, but the horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch and the extraordinary virality of the attacker’s video online illustrated the need to do even more. We believe these next steps are best executed within an industry-led framework with deep input from both civil society and governments.”

The organization outlined its progress on its commitments to the Christchurch Call to Action:

  • It introduced a content incident protocol to guide a collaborated response among members in the event of terrorist attacks and to combat the spread of terrorist content across their platforms.
  • It published a cross-platform tool kit on countering violent extremism, developed with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
  • It released algorithms for the hashing technology it uses so that other companies can use them and contribute to the database.
  • The first GIFCT Transparency Report was published.

Finally, the GIFCT shared its four foundational goals going forward:

  • Empower a broad range of technology companies, independently and collectively, with processes and tools to prevent and respond to abuse of their platforms by terrorists and violent extremists.
  • Enable multi-stakeholder engagement around terrorist and violent extremist misuse of the internet and encourage stakeholders to meet key commitments consistent with the GIFCT mission.
  • Promote civil dialog online and empower efforts to direct positive alternatives to the messages of terrorists and violent extremists.
  • Advance broad understanding of terrorist and violent extremist operations and their evolution, including the intersection of online and offline activities. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.