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Bold stance: Microsoft says terrorism is bad

Redmond vows to pull terror content from services

By Shaun Nichols, 21 May 2016

Microsoft is enacting a new policy to remove terrorist content from its consumer services.

The Redmond software giant said that the new terms and conditions for its hosted services will bar any content containing graphic violence or supporting material for any group considered a terrorist organization by the United Nations Sanctions List.

Additionally, Microsoft says that it will remove terrorist-related content from its Bing search engine whenever requested by government agencies and will try to display links promoting anti-terror non-government organizations when returning queries for terrorism-related search results.

While trying to stop the spread of terrorism seems like an obvious cause for Microsoft to get on board with, the company notes that in doing so it also has to respect the individual rights of its users.

"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 in announcing the policy.

"We also have a responsibility to run our services in a way that respects timeless values such as privacy, freedom of expression, and the right to access information."

One way that Microsoft hopes to strike that balance is to offer content from multiple sources in its results. To do so, Redmond says that it is opening up partnerships with a number of educational groups and including new content in its YouthSpark hub, to help users distinguish credible content from misleading sites and hate speech.

Additionally, Microsoft says that it will be working with a Dartmouth University project that seeks to create a system to identify and flag terrorist content in order to better track that content to be reported to site administrators.

"As we look at additional measures we can take, our actions will always be consistent with the rule of law and with our belief in our users' rights to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information," Microsoft said. ®

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