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Google soon to launch a system in the US that steers extremists away from ISIS
You may not agree with their message, and Google certainly hopes you don’t, but ISIS and its followers have proven to be much more tech-savvy than other terrorist groups. They have managed to indoctrinate hordes of new recruits via social media, and Google has been working on countering them. It’s called Redirect Method, and Google is now preparing to release its solution in North America.
Redirect Method, created by Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw, looks for keywords users commonly search for when they’re looking to learn more about ISIS and other terrorist groups. Along with delivering their search results, Redirect Method presents potential recruits with ‘counter programming’ in the form of YouTube channels and videos meant to steer people away from extremism.
During an eight-week pilot, Redirect Method search over 1,700 keywords and targeted about 320,000 believed to be at imminent risk of ISIS indoctrination. Those individuals were shown ads that sought to refute the terrorist group’s propaganda, including personal accounts from YouTubers who managed to escape ISIS-claimed territory.
It isn’t just for combating ISIS’ propaganda. As the program heads to the States, Jigsaw also hopes Redirect Method will help steer potential recruits away from domestic terror groups. Although this may strike some as eerily close to thought policing or social engineering, Jigsaw says they aren’t trying to forcibly guide people’s thoughts per se. Jigsaw’s Yasmin Green, head of research and development, said that “the branding philosophy for the entire pilot project was not to appear judgmental or be moralistic, but really to pique interest of individuals who have questions, questions that are being raised and answered by the Islamic State.”
Essentially, Jigsaw is arguing that people researching some topics surrounding terrorism may only encounter one side of the issue, thanks to aggressive social media initiatives on the part of ISIS. With Redirect Method, those curious about ISIS and other terror groups will be exposed to a more complex narrative than search results may have previously yielded.
What do you think of Redirect Method? Is this thought control or a necessary means to combat a techno-savvy force of violence? Let us know your take in the comments below!