EU-Funded project uses artificial intelligence to tackle terrorist cyber-propaganda

Date: 06/30/2017
RED-Alert is a research and innovation project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme to develop new online content monitoring and analysis tools to fight terrorism

Extremist and terrorist groups use the Internet for psychological warfare, propaganda, recruitment and misinformation, with dramatic consequences for European citizens. Over the past few years, social media and online communication channels have become the primary tools for terrorist groups to reach out to vulnerable individuals and prompt them to action, resulting in over 40 terrorist attacks on European soil since 2015, all of them perpetrated by radicalized individuals.

On June 22, the European Council challenged the European industry to “build on the work of the EU Internet Forum to establish an Industry Forum and to develop new technology and tools to improve the automatic detection and removal of content that incites to terrorist acts”.

Social media providers are determined to fight terrorist propaganda, but admit that there is no specific tool for identifying terrorist content on the Internet, forcing them to rely on proprietary spam-fighting tools, user reports and human analysis in order to detect accounts promoting terrorism.

“RED-Alert is one of the first European initiatives responding to the challenge of automated detection and removal of terrorist propaganda, while preserving the privacy of citizens” says Monica Florea, Head of Unit European Projects, SIVECO Romania, the project coordinator.

RED-Alert harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to detect terrorist content, based on a unique combination of technologies such as natural language processing, semantic media analysis, social network analysis and complex event processing.

“RED-Alert involves a lot more than a computer recognizing certain words. The technology we are building will be able to process massive amounts of unstructured data - such as social media posts - in order to identify meaningful relationships and spot potential threats", explains Jennifer Woodard, CEO of Insikt Intelligence, one of the industrial partners of the consortium.

RED-Alert brings the best of European research and innovation together to fight terrorism with a consortium of 16 organizations from 8 countries, including 6 European law enforcement agencies, supported by Europol’s counter-terrorism unit. The project starts in June 2017 and will last 3 years.

We are determined to leverage the most advanced technologies to fight terrorism and prevent future attacks on our soil. This project will provide key intelligence assets to European law enforcement agencies.

About RED-Alert
RED-Alert has received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 740688.

More on the European Council conclusions on security and defence (22/06/2017)

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