Microsoft Cyber Security in Attention Mode


Microsoft has announced plans to crack down on terrorist content, perhaps in response to the Obama administration’s intense effort to get Silicon Valley’s help in preventing organizations like ISIS from using social media as a recruiting and fundraising tool. Microsoft has amended its terms of use to prohibit the posting of terrorist content on its various platforms, extending the existing prohibition on hate speech and advocacy of violence against others. The company categorized terrorist content as material posted by or in support of any organizations in the Consolidated United National Security Council Sanctions list, which includes groups the UN Security Council considers terrorist organizations.

The prohibition specifically deals with content that depicts graphic violence, encourages violent action, endorses a terrorist group or its acts, or encourages people to join such groups, according to Microsoft. It was inevitable that there would need to be new approaches to combat terrorism in the digital arena, Microsoft said, noting the importance of the Internet as a communications hub. Recent events have served as a reminder that it can be used for the worst reasons imaginable, the company added.

Microsoft will continue using its notice and takedown process for removing prohibited content. When brought to its attention through its online reporting tool, whether by governments, concerned citizens or other groups, such content will be removed. In a nod to censorship concerns, Microsoft said it would remove links to terrorist-related content from Bing search results when the takedown would be required of search providers under local law. The company already operates that way in France, for example, where police authorities routinely report links to terrorist-related content.

The antiterror efforts Microsoft and others have undertaken should be effective, said Todd Helmus, senior behavioral scientist at the Rand Corp., because in addition to limiting access to terror networks, the companies are providing alternative messaging. “What’s noteworthy about Microsoft and what you’re seeing from the other social media giants is that not only are there efforts to remove content or limit access to content, but also opportunities for counter content,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “That’s also a very important aspect of this as well.”


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