From the Archives: Blocking Terrorist Propaganda & Utopia Drive

Dec 6, 2016

Social media networks have too few people to monitor and shut down the volume of Islamic State propaganda accounts. Today, a Dartmouth professor has created a tool to flag violent, extremist videos and recruitment tools and keep them off social media feeds...still, some companies fear accusations of censorship.

Then, in the early 1800s, America was new - a wide and blank slate for backwoods prophets, reformers and salvation seekers to create their own versions of paradise. Today, from Shakers to radicals to polygamists, a road trip through some of the nearly 200 utopian communities that emerged in the 19th century.

Blocking Terrorist Propaganda

Although their locations, backgrounds and methods differ, more than one terrorist incident was preceded by posts on Facebook or Twitter denigrating western countries and pledging allegiance to ISIS.  Social media networks have stepped up their campaigns to shut down pro-ISIS propaganda and recruitment accounts, but stopping distribution of gruesome videos and imagery is a slippery task. Relying on algorithms to identify offensive content is tougher with videos, so they have to rely on humans to monitor more than 500 million tweets and more than a billion Facebook log-ins a day.

Hany Farid is the chair of Dartmouth's Computer Science department and is a senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project. He developed PhotoDNA a system used to detect child pornography online and stop it from spreading. Earlier this summer similar software was in development to flag terrorist propaganda online.

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Utopia Drive

Between 1820 and 1850, preachers, radical behaviorists, backwoods prophets, and salvation seekers tried just that. They sought deliberate separation, and plotted their own versions of paradise in nearly 200 utopian communities across the eastern United States. The writer Erik Reece takes a road trip through several long-abandoned sites where utopian communities once dared to reimagine the future. His new book is called Utopia Drive.

You can listen to this story again here

Concerts at the White House

What do Queen Latifah, Lyle Lovett, Mick Jagger, and Nick Jonas all have in common? They have performed at the White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has showcased some of the world’s most famous musicians over the years, this wasn’t always the case. This story comes to us from the Kennedy Center and is narrated by Richard Dreyfuss.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org