Counter-terrorism was never meant to be Silicon Valley’s job. Is that why it’s failing?

Extremist content is spreading online and law enforcement can’t keep up. The result is a private workforce that’s secretive, inaccurate and unaccountable

Counter-terrorism is being slowly privatized and carried out by low-paid workers at technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Although these companies hire expert advisers and former government agents to tackle extremist propaganda and recruitment enabled by their platforms, much of the grunt work is carried out by contractors earning $15 an hour or, in YouTube’s case, volunteers.

The result is a private counter-terror workforce with little training increasingly employed to do the kind of work expected of law enforcement. Such work is carried out secretly, inaccurately (journalists and activists have been censored) and with little accountability.

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