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Google takes new measures to combat online extremism

Large swathes of the internet have taken it upon themselves to try to stem the flow of ISIS propaganda and other terrorist content. People working under the Anonymous banner are perhaps the most obvious, but now Google is getting involved as well.

In an overtly political move a senior Google executive, Dr Anthony House, has revealed measures that are being trialled to try to combat extremism. As well as making it easier to discover who is looking for extremist content online, the company is also piloting a scheme that uses its AdWords system to display anti-ISIS messages.

This is an interesting use of Google's technology, and stands in stark contrast to the blunt DDoS attacks employed by some anti-ISIS groups. Google has already been heavily involved in controlling the dissemination of ISIS videos, removing large numbers from YouTube. But the latest idea takes something of a different angle; it aims to "make sure when people put potentially damaging search terms into our search engine they also find these counter narratives".

Quite how effective it will be to display an 'ISIS is bad' message to jihadi sympathisers is not clear, but it's something that Google is willing to try. Dr House said: "We offer Google AdWords Grants to NGOs so that meaningful counter-speech ads can be surfaced in response to search queries like 'join Isis'."

What this does not mean - despite what has been reported by some sites - is that Google is going to start delivering the 'wrong search results to would-be jihadis'. The only thing that will be affected are the ads that adorn search results.

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