Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, an association of major IT companies aimed to prevent terrorists and violent extremists from exploiting digital platforms, has labelled BJP as a fringe group. The organisation formed by Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube listed the world’s largest political party Bharatiya Janata Party under the Right-Wing fringe groups that indulge in non-violent extremism.
On page 62 of the 177-page report titled Broadening the GIFCT Hash-Sharing Database Taxonomy: An Assessment and Recommended Next Steps, BJP has been listed with two other right-wing non-fringe groups, Australia First party and National Socialist Movement. The report also lists two left-wing parties, three religious groups, two separatist groups and two separatist groups as Level 1 Fringe Groups under the Non-Violent Extremism category.
The classification has been done on the basis of Dynamic Matrix of Extremisms and Terrorism (DMET), which GIFCT describes as a continuum approach towards identifying different degrees of extremisms. It says that the DMET considers the whole ecosystem of content and actors that can contribute to a continuum of extremism.
Interestingly, while Antifa has been listed as a left-wing violent extremism group, Jihad Watch, a blog that chronicles Islamist Jihadi attacks across the world, has been listed as a right-wing violent extremism group. The GIFCT report lists non-extremist groups as level 0, non-violent extremist groups in Level 1, Violent Extremist groups in Level 2, and Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, KKK etc under Level 3.
It describes the Level 1 Fringe Groups, under which BJP is listed, as “non-violent ideologies that are on the periphery of social movements or larger organizations, with more extreme views than those of the majority.” It says that such groups can be identified on the basis of various cues, like cognitive cues of perceiving/glorify the in-group as superior, indoctrinate dogmatic values, prejudice, and discrimination.
The DMET classification says the Level 1 groups Discredit or denigrate the ‘out-group’, seek isolation from the general public, express external blame for negative events, censor deviant views. It adds that the group dynamics of fringe actors are marked by internal intolerance and censorship of deviant views, as well as readiness to pursue and promote norms of purity, supremacy, domination, or revenge.
GIFCT was founded in 2017 by Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube with the goal to prevent terrorist and violent extremists from exploiting digital formats. The group shares data among Big Tech companies, enabling them to flag and remove content that they think promotes terrorism. Airbnb, Amazon, Discord, Dropbox, Instagram, JustPaste.It, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Mega, Pinterest, Tumblr, WhatsApp and WordPress have joined the group to join the hash-sharing database taxonomy prepared by GIFCT.
The hash-sharing database enables its members to identify images and videos that violate the terms of services of their platforms and those associated with UN-designated terror organisations. When such an image or video is uploaded on the platform of a member, they produce a hash, a digital signature for the content, and upload the same to the hash-sharing database. The hashes used in the GIFCT hash-sharing database are “perceptual hashes” – which means visually similar content creates hashes that are mathematically close to each other.
The 256-bit hash values are produced using an open-source algorithm which is developed and released by Facebook.
While the GIFCT database was originally confined to terrorist groups, it has been now expanded to include ‘white supremacists’ and ‘far-right militias’. Although the initiative of the group is noble, there have been concerns of censorship and violation of free speech rights after it expanded the database to include far-right groups.
The full report of the GIFCT can be accessed here [PDF].