Microsoft to remove terrorist content

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Microsoft to remove terrorist content

Bing links to stay unless required under law.

Microsoft is preparing to implement an anti-terrorist policy for content it hosts, banning and removing material that advocates violence or endorses organisations that have been recognised as extremist by the United Nations. 

The new initiative comes as the company seeks to distance itself from users that post offensive material on Microsoft's different online properties. 

"We have a responsibility to run our various internet services so that they are a tool to empower people, not to contribute, however indirectly, to terrible acts," Microsoft said on its corporate blog. 

Limiting access to terrorist content online may prove difficult for Microsoft, as the company feels it has a "responsibility to run our service in a way that respects timeless values such as privacy, freedom of expression and the right to access information". 

Under the new policy, Microsoft will amend its terms and conditions to specifically prohibit posting of terrorist content on its hosted consumer services, and remove any such material when found. 

However, its Bing search engine will only remove offending links when required to do so under local laws.

Microsoft said it believes Bing should be unbiased and present links to all relevant information on the internet, and not limit free speech. The company said it will instead work with non-government organisations to develop positive messaging to dissuade users searching for terrorist material. 

One problem Microsoft faces is that there is no universally accepted definition of terrorist content. The company will use the consolidated United Nations Security Council sanctions list to identify terrorist organisations, and content posted in support of those groups. 

Under pressure from governments around the world, Microsoft is following other online service providers in its efforts to suppress terrorist content. 

In February, Google said it would display anti-Islamic state ads to potential terrorist recruits, as part of a UK trial. 

Facebook also implemented a scheme to remove terrorist propaganda in December, while Twitter is actively deleting Islamic State accounts, some of which are automated bots. 

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