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Google soon to launch a system in the US that steers extremists away from ISIS

It's called Redirect Method, and it will steer users searching for pro-terror content toward content that shows the ugly side of terrorism.

Published onSeptember 8, 2016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX USA (2642870a) Hayat Boumeddiene, far right Hayat Boumeddiene 'appears in Islamic State film' - 06 Feb 2015 The latest video released by French-speaking Islamic state (ISIS), fighters may be Hayat Boumeddiene, who is believed to have knowledge about the deadly January 9, 2015 attack on a Paris kosher grocery,The video, titled "Blow Up France 2," was released Tuesday and shows an ISIS fighter praising previous attackers in France and calling for new attacks. The video shows a woman standing next to the speaker, wearing camouflage clothing and holding a weapon. French authorities are investigating the possibility this woman could be Hayat Boumeddiene. Her husband, Amedy Coulibaly, killed four hostages January 9 at a kosher grocery in Paris, authorities said. He was killed by police in a rescue and the remaining hostages fled to safety.
Credit: Photo by REX USA

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.

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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!

Google Ideas is now Jigsaw

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