Google’s chairman has spoken out about the need for a “spell-check for hate” on social media.
In a piece written for the New York Times, Eric Schmidt said that using smarter technology to weed out extreme material would “remove videos before they spread” and “de-escalate tensions on social media”.
His words come as US Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton called upon tech companies to help tackle the spread of extremist material online. However, it’s an issue that intelligence agencies and tech firms have clashed over.
Many tech companies have been implacable in their insistence on using high level encryption software, receiving more wind in their sails from Edward Snowden’s revelations about large-scale government snooping. For example, Apple has made it nearly impossible to unlock its smartphones without a password or fingerprint – a measure that has frustrated some politicians.
However, Mr. Schmidt’s comments seem to be an attempt to pour oil on troubled waters, and show willingness from one of the biggest tech firms in the world to limit hate speech online. He said:
“As with all great advances in technology, expanded web access has also brought with it some serious challenges, like threats to free speech, qualms about surveillance and fears of online terrorist activity.
“For all the good people can do with new tools and new inventions, there are always some who will seek to do harm.”
He added that the tech community should build tools to take the heat out of arguments on social media, targeting terrorist groups and stopping the spread of their message.