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Google, Facebook, Twitter join crackdown on child porn

Google, Facebook, Twitter join crackdown on child porn
Google is among the tech companies cracking down on the distribution of child abuse images online. (David Goldman / Associated Press)

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo will be among the first technology companies to use the Internet Watch Foundation's "hash list" to identify and remove child abuse images uploaded to their services, the British anti-abuse organization announced Monday.

Not to be confused with a hashtag, a hash is a string of code that can serve as the digital fingerprint of an image. Sharing the list of fingerprints with Internet companies will allow victims' images to be identified and removed more quickly, preventing them from being repeatedly shared.

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The effects could be wide-reaching. Although the list is initially being made available to a handful of Internet companies, it will soon be shared with other Internet Watch Foundation members, including organizations that offer filtering and hosting services, social media and chat services, data centers, and companies that handle the upload, storage and search of images.

Other Internet Watch Foundation members include Blackberry, Cisco, Dropbox and PayPal.

The foundation's chief executive, Susie Hargreaves, said the move "could be a game-changer, and really steps up the fight against child sexual abuse images online."

Twitter: @traceylien

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