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Google Has A Plan To Stop ISIS Recruits

Photographed by Kate Anglestein.
How do you stop a potential ISIS recruit? With information. That's Google's new plan to stop potential recruits before they become radicalised, reports Wired.

Over the last year, Google's tech incubator, Jigsaw (formerly Google Ideas), has developed a program that will use a combination of Google’s search advertising algorithms and YouTube’s video platform to target aspiring recruits. The goal is to dissuade them from joining the Islamic State group, also know as ISIS or ISIL, by arming them with accurate information on the terrorist organisation.

The program is called The Redirect Method. Basically, advertising is placed alongside search results for any keywords and phrases for which Jigsaw believes people attracted to ISIS commonly search. The ads link to Arabic and English-language YouTube channels. Each channel has preexisting videos that Jigsaw believes can effectively undo ISIS’ propaganda.

The videos include clips from interviews with defectors, imams denouncing ISIS’ corruption of Islam, and other material that showcase the hypocrisy of ISIS.

Jigsaw has created a list of more than 1,700 keywords that trigger ads leading to its anti-ISIS playlists.

According to Jigsaw, this year's pilot programme for the Redirect Method was incredibly effective. Over two months, more than 300,000 people were drawn to the anti-ISIS YouTube channels. Searchers clicked on Jigsaw’s ads three or four times more often than a typical ad campaign.

According to Yasmin Green, Jigsaw's head of research and development, the Redirect Method doesn’t seek to track those searching for the terms or identify them — and it isn’t designed to lead to arrests or surveillance.

“These are people making decisions based on partial, bad information,” Green told Wired. “We can affect the problem of foreign fighters joining the Islamic State by arming individuals with more and better information.”