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Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google renew pledge to fight online child exploitation

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google renew pledge to fight online child exploitation

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Project Protect is a new initiative from the Technology Coalition

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A group of tech platforms has announced a new initiative aimed at combating online child sexual abuse, CNBC reported. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are all part of the 14-year-old Technology Coalition, which says its new Project Protect will enact a “five pillar” plan to put structure, membership models, and staffing in place to support the group’s long-term goals. The five pillars include tech innovation, collective action, independent research, information and knowledge sharing, and transparency and accountability.

The project will establish a research and innovation fund to build tools to prevent online child sex exploitation, publish an annual report on industry efforts, and create an annual forum of experts to share best practices, the group said.

“The number of people online — more than 4.5 billion in 2020 — has added to the challenge of keeping the internet a safe place,” the group said in a statement. While tools for detecting online child sexual abuse have become more sophisticated, the group added, so have the kinds of abuse it’s trying to wipe out.

The plan has some admirable goals, but it doesn’t offer a lot of specifics, including how much money and resources each platform will commit. We’ve reached out to Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google for details.

The Technology Coalition was formed in 2006, partnering with children’s charities and international organizations like UNICEF to provide guidance and funding for tech platforms seeking to put child protections into place across the internet.

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