Tech insiders: Sotloff video halted from spreading

A fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is seen armed with a knife and an automatic weapon next to captured Syrian army soldiers and officers following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria, in this undated image posted Aug. 27, 2014, by the group's Raqqa Media Center. AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group

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

Video showing the death of James Foley last month ricocheted through social networks in what many feared was a propaganda coup for the militants known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

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 to The Associated Press 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 told the AP, adding that tech companies are trying to force out "platform by platform" ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

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 organization worked to close multiple accounts quickly after the Sotloff video appeared. That official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity for the same reasons.

Even on Diaspora, a decentralized social network that does not exert centralized control over content, ISIS 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.

Comments