MPS firearms officers begin filming training for counter-terror initiative

Firearms officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) have begun filming training sessions as part of an initiative to prevent the live-streaming of terrorist attacks and mass shootings online.

Oct 24, 2019
By Tony Thompson

The footage will be shared with Facebook to help it develop technology that can identify real-time videos of shootings on its platform. The footage will also be provided to the Home Office so that it can be shared with other technology companies to develop similar methods to stop live-streaming of firearms attacks elsewhere online.

First announced last month, the initiative follows criticism of Facebook over the spread of a live-stream video showing the New Zealand mosque shootings in March, which left 51 dead. The video was viewed 200 times during its live broadcast and was watched around 4,000 times in total before being removed.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the MPS Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Facebook reached out to the Met as we have worked with them on numerous occasions before to remove online terrorist propaganda.

“The live-streaming of terrorist attacks is an incredibly distressing method of spreading toxic propaganda, so I am encouraged by Facebook’s efforts to prevent such broadcasts. Stopping this kind of material being published will potentially prevent the radicalisation of some vulnerable adults and children.

“The footage we are capturing shows our highly-skilled firearms officers training to respond with the utmost expertise to a wide range of scenarios including the kind of attacks we want to stop terrorists broadcasting.”

Facebook largely relies on artificial intelligence to spot terrorist content and remove it as quickly as possible, but in the case of the Christchurch terrorist attack, it says it did not have enough first-person footage of violent events for the system to analyse.

The footage provided by the MPS team will show officers responding to various scenarios, from terrorist incidents to hostage situations, on land, public transport and water. It will be captured on body-worn video cameras to give a ‘shooter’ perspective.

Erin Saltman, counter-terrorism policy manager at Facebook, said: “Violent extremist and hate based content has no place on our platforms and in the last two years, we have removed 26 million pieces of content from global terrorist groups. We are investing heavily in people and technology to keep this content off our platforms, but this industry-wide problem is not a fight we can win on our own.

“The footage from this partnership with the Met Police will improve our artificial intelligence technology, helping us more quickly identify and remove dangerous content. Crucially, we will make this technology available to the wider tech industry so collectively, we can prevent the spread of harmful content.”

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