Google plans to show anti-terrorism ads to would-be extremists
Users of Google that search for extremist-related material will be shown anti-radicalisation ad results, a senior executive at the company has revealed to MPs.
At a home affairs select committee hearing on countering extremism, MPs heard from representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter about those companies’ plans to combat extremism on their platforms. Dr Anthony House, a senior manager for public policy at Google, said that the company was working to make extremist material easier to identify, as well as ways to offer “counter-narratives” to potential jihadists.
“We are working on counter-narratives around the world. This year one of the things we’re looking at is we are running two pilot programmes,” said House. “One is to make sure these types of views are more discoverable. The other is to make sure when people put potentially damaging search terms into our search engine they also find these counter-narratives.”
Those counter-narratives will take the form of Google AdWords, the sponsored links that appear at the top of a Google search result. It isn’t clear what words will prompt a response, but the general idea seems to be that users searching for extremist material will be faced with a couple of anti-extremist links. A similar technique is currently in place for searches relating to suicide – wherein searches relating to that subject bring up links to the Samaritans and other refuge organisations.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz also asked representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google how many of its employees were on “hit squads” for removing inappropriate content from their sites. He was told that Twitter, which has 320 million users, employs “more than 100” members of staff for that purpose. Google and Facebook declined to give figures publically.