Steve Kurtz
~ It's a beautiful world ~

Google vs. ISIS

May 16th, 2016

While the world asks what it can do to combat terrorism, Google is stepping up.

JigsawGoogle has reformed it’s Ideas unit as Jigsaw. Headed by former U.S. State Department employee Jared Cohen, the new team’s charge is “countering violent extremism, thwarting online censorship, and defending against the threats associated with digital attacks.”

While you might expect a technology giant like Google to help protect online assets, Google is taking it a step further.  Part of the Jigsaw team is investigating ways to take action against threats like physical terrorism (not just cyber-terrorism).

Jigsaw thinks it can help prevent would-be terrorists from connecting with a terror group – through education.  By studying the search behaviors of people looking to become involved with terrorist groups, Google wants to identify and intercept that part of the recruitment process.  Once these potential terrorist supporters are identified, Google can then serve those browsers content related to counter-terrorism efforts, instead of the terror propaganda they were looking for.

What’s more, this is possible within the existing structure of Google – without manipulating the coveted Google search algorithms.  How?  Google could use its own advertising platform to present would-be terrorists with ads for counter-terrorism based websites.  Consider someone searching “join isis”.  Google could present that person with ads for websites that tell a compelling anti-terrorism story – perhaps enough to sway that person from supporting the group they were interested in.

Yes, this opens a Pandora’s Box of other potential population swaying technology.  [Might I suggest Google attack the current election situation?] But combating terrorism with education –  it’s a brilliant idea, IMHO.

In a world where anger seems to be the “go-to” for a frustrated population, Google is bringing bright minds together to find and enable real, workable solutions.  Kudos.


Read more at NPR recently did a segment on this, but I couldn’t find it online (yet?)

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