Google Is Using Search To Fight Terrorism

September 7, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

While some may argue that Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto was tarnished years ago, the search giant still makes a point of being a force for good in the world. Their practices and policies are, for the most part, strictly of a lawful good alignment, and their research and developments are proof of that.Their body of humanitarian work already includes providing tools to lifesaving agencies and the business people that keep them afloat, as well as helping to bring the opportunity-rich internet to places it has never been, but their latest trick may be one of their boldest humanitarian efforts yet. The internal experiments lab that Google acquired, Jigsaw, is working on a way to dissuade would-be ISIS recruits.

The lab has been developing a solution for a year now and already rolled it out on a smaller scale in some areas, while the newest phase of the program will target would-be recruits in the United States. Essentially, the idea is to figure out what makes actual ISIS members and recruits tick using analytics data, along with social media, and their search and internet history, where available. From there, the program hijacks the pages and links that a would-be recruit may be viewing, and adds in messages that don’t attack ISIS directly, but serve as a dose of reality that may well dissuade a good number of people that would otherwise join up with the terrorist sect. The hub of this activity is on YouTube, where a large amount of content exists that is generated by or in promotion of ISIS.

According to analytics data pulled from the program’s run thus far, the surreptitiously anti-ISIS videos and ads achieve an engagement rate nearly double that of normal videos and ads, with videos being watched longer and banners being clicked more often. While there is no way to know exactly how many real would-be recruits end up viewing the materials and deciding against joining up with ISIS, it is certainly safe to say that the materials that Google is putting up to reach recruits are reaching millions of people. Google does help out in catching and detaining ISIS operatives in cooperation with authorities, but this new program will hopefully help to cut down on their need to do so by catching recruits before they actually join up.