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Firms halt spread of grisly videos

04 September 2014, 09:28

Paris - Tech companies drafted plans to scrub the web after a grisly video showing the beheading of an American journalist by Islamic State militants - and implemented them this week after a second killing, a Silicon Valley insider said on Wednesday.

Video showing the death of James Foley last month ricocheted through social networks in what many feared was a propaganda coup for the extremists. The tech official said a YouTube video on Tuesday showing another beheading - of American journalist Steven Sotloff - was deleted, slowing the spread of posts linking to it. According to terms of service for many social media companies, the posting of threats and gratuitously violent content is cause for suspension.

The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because companies are grappling with increasing pressure to impose more censorship on the web, would not say whether the developments came at the request of governments or ordinary users.

But after Foley's death, "platforms were better prepared for it this time around," the official said, adding that tech companies are trying to force out the Islamic State group "platform by platform".

Accounts on YouTube, Twitter and other sites were closed within hours of the video's release.

An official with another major technology company said his organisation worked to close multiple accounts quickly after the Sotloff video appeared. That official spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reasons.

Even on Diaspora, a decentralised social network that does not exert centralised control over content, Islamic State militants are now often greeted with banners saying they are unwelcome. But they will find newly sophisticated ways to get a message out, according to Jamie Bartlett of the Demos think tank.

- AP


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