Users searching for content related to terrorism will be ‘anti-radicalisation’ wesbites in Google’s new trials
Google is to redirect users who search for words related to terrorism to anti-radicalisation websites, in a pilot scheme announced this week by the web giant.
In a bid to prove to MPs that Google is committed to fighting terrorism, senior Google executive Dr Anthony House said that the plan is just one of a number of trials Google will be carrying out.
“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 Dr 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.”
Users searching for words and websites associated with religious extremism that is linked to terrorism will be shown the ‘counter-narrative’ via Google AdWords, the sponsored links that appear at the top of a search results page.
Dr House also told MPs at the Common’s home affairs select committee that Google had removed 14 million videos from YouTube in 2014 for reasons that include terrorist content, according to the Telegraph.
Google reportedly offers AdWords grants to NGOs, so that their ‘counter-narrative’ websites can appear on search results for queries such as ‘join Isis’, reported The Telegraph.
Whilst TechWeekEurope can’t argue with the fact that any attempts to curb terrorism are a good thing, Google’s trials will enter a very grey area regarding censorship, freedom of speech, and user control.
On one hand, whilst using Google’s service, we are all at the mercy of whatever it wants us to see. On the other, where does it stop? Could global governments also have the power to pressure the company into fixing search results for other or less extreme agendas? And where is the line between recognising the difference between extremist tendencies and just academic research, political curiosity, or plain global affairs interest?