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YouTube staff too swamped to filter out all terror-related content

Google says pre-sceening the 300 hours of material uploaded each minute would be like vetting a phone call before it is made

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Internet company Google said on Wednesday that its video-sharing website YouTube is so inundated that staff cannot filter all terror-related content, complicating the struggle to halt the publication of terrorist propaganda and hostage videos.

Google public policy manager Verity Harding said 300 hours of video material is being uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it virtually impossible for all images to be filtered.

Harding spoke at a European parliament meeting of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (Alde) on a counter-terrorism action plan.

She said that “to pre-screen those videos before they are uploaded would be like screening a phone call before it’s made”.

The EU’s counter-terror chief believes it is time to help companies contain the security risk by having experts from member states flagging terror-related content.

“We have to help them, and refer to them, and signal content,” Gilles de Kerchove said. “Each member state should have a unit with people trained to do that.”

On YouTube, users can highlight problem videos and have them reviewed by a member of staff.

When a Scotland Yard unit recently told Google about material that did not comply with the firm’s own guidelines, De Kerchove said 93% of that content was removed. But when individuals flag up problems, only a third of it is taken down.

Detecting violent, extreme and racist material is a mammoth task. But concerted, targeted warnings from organised groups work best.

“There are community groups and others who do this on a larger scale and they’re incredibly helpful to us,” Harding said.

Despite the serious threat posed by extreme and violent videos, neither the big internet companies nor the EU appear willing to take on a legal battle to enforce removal of content.

“We can contemplate legislation but I suspect it would be an awfully monumental exercise,” De Kerchove said.

Astronomers find solar system more than double ours in age

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This artist’s rendering made available by Tiago Campante and Peter Devine shows the Kepler-444 star system, surrounded by at least five earth-sized planets. On Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, an international team of astronomers announced that this extrasolar system is 11.2 billion years old. With the age of the universe pegged at 13.8 billion years, this is the oldest star with close-to-Earth-size planets ever found. (AP Photo/Tiago Campante, Peter Devine)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A newly discovered solar system — with five small rocky planets — makes ours look like a baby.

An international team of astronomers announced Tuesday that this extrasolar system is 11.2 billion years old. With the age of the universe pegged at 13.8 billion years, this is the oldest star with close-to-Earth-size planets ever found.

By comparison, our solar system is 4.5 billion years old.

The five planets are smaller than Earth, with the largest about the size of Venus and the smallest just bigger than Mercury. These planets orbit their star in less than 10 days at less than one-tenth the Earth’s distance from the sun, which makes them too close for habitation, said the University of Sydney’s Daniel Huber, part of the team.

“We’ve never seen anything like this — it is such an old star and the large number of small planets make it very special,” Huber said in a statement. “It is extraordinary that such an ancient system of terrestrial-sized planets formed when the universe was just starting out, at a fifth its current age.”

Lead researcher Tiago Campante of the University of Birmingham in England noted in a statement that by now knowing close-to-Earth-size planets formed so long ago, that “could provide scope for the existence of ancient life in the galaxy.”

Campante, an asteroseismologist, measured oscillations from the star to determine the age and size of this compact system.

NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft was used to make the observations over a four-year period. Thus, the bright sunlike star at the heart of this system is named Kepler-444. It’s in the Constellation Lyre.

The team represented scientists from Europe, Australia and the United States. Their findings were reported in the latest edition of the Astrophysical Journal.

Kepler has discovered more than 1,000 confirmed exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — and nearly 4,200 candidates since its launch in 2009 and its revitalization in last year following a breakdown in its pointing system. It reached the 1,000-mark earlier this month.

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