September 8, 2016
Google is taking on terrorism.
Google’s technology incubator, Jigsaw, has spent the past year working on a program that uses Google’s search advertising algorithms and YouTube videos to discourage potential Islamic State recruits, according to a report from Wired.
Dubbed the ‘Redirect Method,’ the technology redirects enthusiasts from ISIS propaganda to videos and content that refutes the information being peddled by the extremist group.
As of this month, the Redirect Method will list advertising alongside ISIS-related search results. The ads link to Arabic- and English-language YouTube channels that offer videos meant to negate any brainwashing done by ISIS. The videos include testimonials from former extremists, imams condemning ISIS’ distortion of Islam and furtively filmed videos revealing the corruption within the group’s caliphates in Northern Syria and Iraq.
Jigsaw head of research and development Yasmin Green explained why there is such a need for the Redirect Method:
“This came out of an observation that there’s a lot of online demand for ISIS material, but there are also a lot of credible organic voices online debunking their narratives,” Green told Wired. “The Redirect Method is at its heart a targeted advertising campaign: Let’s take these individuals who are vulnerable to ISIS’ recruitment messaging and instead show them information that refutes it.”
So far, the project has been quite effective.
A two-month pilot project run by Jigsaw earlier this year, saw more than 300,000 people looking for pro-ISIS related content click on Jigsaw’s offering three or four times more often than a typical ad campaign.
Jigsaw plans to relaunch the program with a new focus on North American extremists and will use the same method to discourage everyone from potential ISIS recruits to white supremacists.