Home Office unveils AI program to tackle Isis online propaganda

Patrick Greenfield
Isis militants. If the program were to process 1m videos, only 50 would require additional review. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

An artificial intelligence program that can detect Islamic State propaganda online with a 94% success rate has been developed, the Home Office has announced.

The technology could stop the majority of Isis videos from reaching the internet by analysing the audio and images of a video file during the uploading process, and rejecting extremist content.

The tool, which has been developed in partnership by the Home Office and ASI Data Science, will be made available to all internet platforms, although many major tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter already use similar technology on their own websites.

The tool is aimed at tackling extremist content on smaller platforms like Vimeo, Telegraph and pCloud, which have seen a large rise in Isis propaganda. The terror group has used 400 different websites to upload their content last year, research has found.

Speaking ahead of a two-day visit to Silicon Valley, home secretary Amber Rudd said: “Over the last year we have been engaging with internet companies to make sure that their platforms are not being abused by terrorists and their supporters.

“I have been impressed with their work so far following the launch of the Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism, although there is still more to do, and I hope this new technology the Home Office has helped develop can support others to go further and faster.”

The AI technology has been trained by analysing more than 1,000 Isis videos, automatically detecting 94% of propaganda with a 99.99% success rate. If the platform were to process 1m randomly selected videos, only 50 would require additional human review, the Home office said.

“The purpose of these videos is to incite violence in our communities, recruit people to their cause, and attempt to spread fear in our society,” Rudd added. “We know that automatic technology like this can heavily disrupt the terrorists’ actions, as well as prevent people from ever being exploited to these horrific images.

“This government has been taking the lead worldwide in making sure that vile terrorist content is stamped out,” she said.

As well as meeting tech CEOs in San Francisco, the home secretary will meet with Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of Homeland Security, to discuss UK-US co-operation on terror content at a digital forum.

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