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Working together to combat terrorists online

Editor’s note: This is a revised and abbreviated version of a speech Kent delivered today at the United Nations in New York City, NY, on behalf of the members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism is a group of four technology companies—Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube—that are committed to working together and with governments and civil society to address the problem of online terrorist content.

For our companies, terrorism isn’t just a business concern or a technical challenge. These are deeply personal threats. We are citizens of London, Paris, Jakarta, and New York. And in the wake of each terrorist attack we too frantically check in on our families and co-workers to make sure they are safe. We’ve all had to do this far too often.

The products that our companies build lower barriers to innovation and empower billions of people around the world. But we recognize that the internet and other tools have also been abused by terrorists in their efforts to recruit, fundraise, and organize. And we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that our platforms aren't used to distribute terrorist material.

The Forum’s efforts are focused on three areas: leveraging technology, conducting research on patterns of radicalization and misuse of online platforms, and sharing best practices to accelerate our joint efforts against dangerous radicalization. Let me say more about each pillar.

First, when it comes to technology, you should know that our companies are putting our best talent and technology against the task of getting terrorist content off our services. There is no silver bullet when it comes to finding and removing this content, but we’re getting much better.

One early success in collaboration has been our “hash sharing” database, which allows a company that discovers terrorist content on one of their sites to create a digital fingerprint and share it with the other companies in the coalition, who can then more easily detect and review similar content for removal.  

We have to deal with these problems at tremendous scale. The haystacks are unimaginably large and the needles are both very small and constantly changing. People upload over 400 hours of content to YouTube every minute. Our software engineers have spent years developing technology that can spot certain telltale cues and markers. In recent months we have more than doubled the number of videos we've removed for violent extremism and have located these videos twice as fast. And what’s more, 75 percent of the violent extremism videos we’ve removed in recent months were found using technology before they received a single human flag.

These efforts are working. Between August 2015 and June 2017, Twitter suspended more than 935,000 accounts for the promotion of terrorism. During the first half of 2017, over 95 percent of the accounts it removed were detected using its in-house technology. Facebook is using new advances in artificial intelligence to root out "terrorist clusters" by mapping out the pages, posts, and profiles with terrorist material and then shutting them down.

Despite this recent progress, machines are simply not at the stage where they can replace human judgment. For example, portions of a terrorist video in a news broadcast might be entirely legitimate, but a computer program will have difficulty distinguishing documentary coverage from incitement.  

The Forum’s second pillar is focused on conducting and sharing research about how terrorists use the internet to influence their audiences so that we can stay one step ahead.

Today, the members of the Forum are pleased to announce that we are making a multi-million dollar commitment to support research on terrorist abuse of the internet and how governments, tech companies, and civil society can fight back against online radicalization.

The Forum has also set a goal of working with 50 smaller tech companies to help them better tackle terrorist content on their platforms. On Monday, we hosted dozens of companies for a workshop with our partners under the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. There will be a workshop in Brussels in December and another in Indonesia in the coming months. And we are also working to expand the hash-sharing database to smaller companies.

The Forum’s final pillar is working together to find powerful messages and avenues to reach out to those at greatest risk of radicalization.

Members of the forum are doing a better job of sharing breakthroughs with each other. One success we’ve seen is with the Redirect Method developed at Alphabet’s Jigsaw group. Redirect uses targeted advertising to reach people searching for terrorist content and presents videos that undermine extremist recruiting efforts. During a recent eight-week study more than 300,000 users clicked on our targeted ads and watched more than 500,000 minutes of video. This past April, Microsoft started a similar program on Bing. And Jigsaw and Bing are now exploring a partnership to share best practices and expertise.

At the same time, we’re elevating the voices that are most credible in speaking out against terrorism, hate, and violence. YouTube’s Creators for Change program highlights online stars taking a stand against xenophobia and extremism.  And Facebook's P2P program has brought together more than 5,000 students from 68 countries to create campaigns to combat hate speech. And together the companies have participated in hundreds of meetings and trainings to counter violent extremism including events in Beirut, Bosnia, and Brussels and summits at the White House, here at the United Nations, London, and Sydney to empower credible non-governmental voices against violent extremism.

There is no magic computer program that will eliminate online terrorist content, but we are committed to working with everyone in this room as we continue to ramp up our own efforts to stop terrorists’ abuse of our services. This forum is an important step in the right direction. We look forward to working with national and local governments, and civil society, to prevent extremist ideology from spreading in communities and online.


Best Practices: Creating Art Assets for VR

Editor's Note: This is a design-focused post for anyone interested in creating art assets for virtual reality.

As a VR and AR artist, I’ve noticed two trends. First, new tools and practices that can make us better artists are appearing all the time. But also, techniques and skills from the late 90’s and early 00’s are making a comeback, and they apply to virtual reality because computing resources in VR are limited. If you’re just starting out, there’s a lot to consider. So if you’re an artist and you’re new to VR, here are some of my favorite tips for creating great assets.

  • Never drop a frame. You need to keep your frame rate as high as possible, because the lower it goes, the greater the chance of discomfort and motion sickness due to conflicts between your inner ear and your visual inputs. One technique to keep your frame rate high is to create levels of detail (LODs). A character with 10,000 polygons only needs such a high resolution really close up. At further distances, you could swap in a 5,000 poly version, and then even lower poly models as the distance increases, all the way to a single polygon (LOD 4 in the diagram below). This will help with performance, and it works especially well for large groups of background characters that are always seen at a distance.

  • Be aware of the textures you’re using. Busy, noisy and contrasting textures can be nauseating in VR, as they tend to cause a jittering look. However, flat textures with no detail can pose problems as well, because without texture it’s hard to measure motion or depth. Although extremes can work in non-VR experiences, avoid them in VR. 

  • How it looks in VR is what matters. When designing assets in 2D, be sure to constantly check and see what it looks like in VR.  It can be cumbersome to jump back and forth, but your perspective will be different: volume and size are extremely present in VR. Putting that tree on a hill may look like a fine distance to cover when you’re designing in 2D, but once you’re in VR and comparing distances, it might not work at all.

  • Make exploration fun, not hard. Exploration should be fun and available, but in VR you really want to clearly point out where to go. Create a visual language, like having orange torches near the proper dungeon exit, or street lights in a zombie apocalypse. These are subtle yet important indicators, because it’s very easy to become lost in VR.

Hopefully, these tips will be useful as you get started creating art in VR. We’re all on the edge of a new frontier, and because of that, we’re learning all the time. It’s great. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks? Let’s get a conversation going; use #VRArtTips to share.


Project Fi welcomes Android One, with the moto x4

With Project Fi, we set out to make your wireless experience fast, easy and fair—with access to three national 4G LTE networks, and international roaming at no extra cost. But many of you have asked us for more options for high quality, affordable devices that work with Project Fi. We've heard you and we're excited to launch our newest phone for Project Fi: the Android One moto x4.

We took some important steps with Android One earlier this month by expanding the program to bring a fresh, secure software experience designed by Google to more high-quality devices no matter the price point. The launch of Android One moto x4 on Project Fi is the next step in our commitment to work with more partners and expand Android One to new places.



Packed with a pure Android experience, advanced hardware and great network connectivity, here’s a closer look at what you’ll get with the new Android One moto x4.

Best-in-class software experience designed by Google

Like all Android One phones, Android One moto x4 runs a pure Android experience, with a clean software design and a carefully curated set of preinstalled apps to give you just what you need. For example, it comes optimized for the Google Assistant to help you get more done, and offers high-quality video calling with Google Duo. You’ll also get access to the latest updates from Android, such as Android Oreo before the end of the year. Android One moto x4 will be among the first to receive an upgrade to Android P.


Powerful cameras and unlimited high-quality photo storage

The Android One moto x4 comes with three cameras. A 12MP + 8MP dual rear camera system lets you capture wide-angle photos and detailed portraits. The front-facing camera comes packed with 16MP and an adaptive low light mode. And with free high quality storage from Google Photos, you never have to worry about running out of space.


All day battery and ultra-fast charging

Power through the day and enjoy your favorite Android software features like battery saver. When you need to recharge, TurboPower™ charging makes it ultra fast: You can get up to six hours of power in just 15 minutes.


Top of the line security

The Android One moto x4 will receive timely security updates and built-in malware protection from Google Play Protect, working around the clock to keep your device, data and apps safe.


The Android One moto x4 is priced at $399, comes in Super Black and Sterling Blue, and is available only in the U.S. on Project Fi’s network. You can pre-order it on the Project Fi website starting today. If you've got an older Nexus phone and want to trade it in for a new device, we're making it easier than ever with our new trade-in program. We’ll give you up to $165 for select Nexus devices, and if you start your trade-in for an Android One moto xby October 5, you’ll earn an extra $50 Fi credit.


Hector Mujica on “showing grace to those in the margins” and his social impact work at Google

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating the fascinating stories and important contributions of our Hispanic Googlers—their histories, their families, and what keeps them busy inside and outside of work. 

Any Venezuelan football fans out there? Here I am showing some love for "Vino Tinto."

Next up is Hector Mujica, social justice champion, enthusiast of the outdoors, and self-proclaimed acronym inventor (SPAI).

Give us the 10-second, one-sentence version of what you do at Google.

I work on Google.org, Google’s philanthropy team, where I manage our programs across Latin America, and support our disaster relief giving and volunteering work globally.

When did you (or generations before you) immigrate to the U.S.?

My family immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela when I was a young child, after my dad landed a job at Oracle in Miami. Of all the places to start in America, South Florida must be one of the best—with the rich cultural diversity and ample Latin food, it made the transition smooth, and kept me close to my Hispanic heritage.

How are you involved in the Hispanic community at Google, and why is it important to you?

I worked closely on the founding of HOLA, our Hispanic employee resource group (ERG). Through HOLA, I’ve gotten to meet many of our Latino Googlers over the years—all of whom continue to amaze me with their stories, talents, and passions to make this company, and the world, a better, more equitable place. The Hispanic community is vital to Google because it brings in people who might otherwise feel like cultural strangers and tells them, “come as you are—you belong.”

The Hispanic community is vital to Google because it brings in people who might otherwise feel like cultural strangers and tells them, “come as you are—you belong.”

How did you find your way to Google? Have you always pictured yourself working here?

I actually never had ambitions to work in tech or at Google. While in my junior year of undergrad at Florida International University, I looked for internships around the country, and was intrigued by working at company that was breaking all the established norms in corporate America. I applied to Google’s BOLD internship program, thinking it was a long shot, and after a few interviews, I found myself living out the coldest summer of my life in San Francisco, interning at Google on the People Operations team. I fell in love with Northern California and Google, and anxiously awaited the opportunities that lay ahead.

Day one of my BOLD internship at Google in 2010, before I learned that dress shirts and ties are not part of the dress code at Google.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

My dad’s hustle, grit, passion and optimism have taught me much about life and the world. As a first-generation immigrant, he taught me about risk-taking and tenacity. As a man of faith, he’s taught me about unapologetically straying true to my convictions. As a family man, he’s been a caretaker and steward of not only his nuclear family, but—like a good Latino—his extended family as well. He’s always balanced family life with the needs of the community. Whether it meant taking immigrant families into our home while they got on their feet, working with the homeless to help them rehabilitate, or volunteering to feed the needy at nearby shelters, my dad never turned down a chance show grace to those in the margins. These experiences shaped my worldview and gave me sense of social justice and altruism, which continues to influence the work I do today at Google.org.

Sunrise on top of the world, at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing mountains is tough, but the summit is always worth it.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Outdoors. Or traveling to experience the outdoors in the rest of the world. I’ve always been in awe of nature. Oceans and mountains both scare me and inspire me. Whenever I have a chance to see the natural world from a new angle, I usually take it. That wanderlust has taken me to nearly every continent (Antarctica, I’m coming for you!), 51 countries, and from the deepest depths (I’m a scuba diver) to some of the highest highs (just did Kilimanjaro last year!).

What career advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Invest wisely in people and moments. The networks of people around you will help shape your perspectives, career and open doors to new opportunities ... and when these opportunities present themselves, capitalize on the moments. They will teach you more than any classroom can.

What has been a big moment for you at Google?

I’ve had many Google “magic moments,” but the one that comes to mind was Googlers’ collective reaction to the travel ban earlier this year. Within days of the ban, Googlers organized a demonstration and showed up in full force, with messages of encouragement and enthusiasm during grim times. My team and I assembled a $4 million crisis fund to support key organizations that were leading the way in fighting injustice and intolerance. This moment reinforced in me the power of unity and comradery at Google, and within immigrant communities, who bring their best selves to this great country of ours.

As a Venezuelan-American that has benefited from ample opportunity, I am compelled to give back to my community. That’s why I’m so thankful of the opportunity I have at Google.org to invest in a better, most just, and more equitable world, for everyone.


Addressing the UK NCSC’s Cloud Security Principles

As your organization adopts more cloud services, it's essential to get a clear picture of how sensitive data will be protected. Many authorities, from government regulators, to industry standards bodies and consortia, have provided guidance on how to evaluate cloud security. Notably, the UK National Cyber Security Centre offers a framework built around 14 Cloud Security Principles, and we recently updated our response detailing how we address these principles for both Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and G Suite. Google Cloud customers in the UK public sector can use the response to assess the suitability of these Google Cloud products to host their data with sensitivity levels up to “OFFICIAL,” including “OFFICIAL SENSITIVE.”

The UK National Cyber Security Centre was set up to improve the underlying security of the UK internet and to protect critical services from cyber attacks. Its 14 Cloud Security Principles are expansive and thorough, and include such important considerations as data in-transit protection, supply chain security, identity and authentication and secure use of the service.

The 14 NCSC Cloud Security Principles allow service providers like Google Cloud to highlight the security benefits of our products and services in an easily consumable format. Our response provides details about how GCP and G Suite satisfy the recommendations built into each of the principles, and describes the specific best practices, services and certifications that help us address the goals of each recommendation.

The NCSC also provides detailed ChromeOS deployment guidance to help organizations follow its 12 End User Device Security Principles. With an end-to-end solution encompassing GCP, applications and connected devices, Google Cloud provides the appropriate tools and functionality to allow you to adhere to the NCSC’s stringent security guidelines in letter and spirit.

Our response comes on the heels of GCP opening a new region in London, which allows GCP customers in the UK to improve the latency of their applications.

We look forward to working with all manner of UK customers, regulated and otherwise, as we build out a more secure, intelligent, collaborative and open cloud.