Far from just allowing users to stay in touch with family and friends around the globe, Zoom now also wants to tackle online terrorism.
The video conferencing giant has announced it is joining the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) alongside the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Meta.
“It is our responsibility to support our users and protect them against online threats,” Josh Parecki, Zoom's associate general counsel for trust and safety, told Reuters. “By collaborating with other leaders across the industry, sharing key learnings and advancing research, we aspire to make the digital world a safer place for all.”
Formed by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube in 2017 following a spate of deadly terrorist attacks across Europe, GIFCT says its mission is “to prevent terrorists and violent extremists from exploiting digital platforms.”
Now numbering 18 companies following Zoom's addition, the NGO was initially focused on sharing technical collaboration to combat online extremism, but has since expanded to managing a hash-sharing database.
This allows members to share unique “hashes” – records of original content that have had to be removed from their platforms or services following extremism concerns.
These hashes are then used by other GIFCT members to identify if similar content has been uploaded to their platforms.
In a statement, GIFCT Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen said it was delighted to have Zoom as a partner. He noted that the group's mission “requires we work with a diverse range of companies …to develop cross-platform solutions that render terrorists and violent extremists ineffective across the Internet”.
After an initial surge in popularity and an explosion in user numbers at the start of the pandemic, Zoom came under heavy criticism for failing to secure its platform.
Following several high-profile “Zoombombing” incidents where outside parties were able to gain access to Zoom calls without permission, the company carried out a major upheaval of its security protections.
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