Google To Show Wrong Search Results To Combat Terrorism

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A senior Google executive has announced that the search giant will start delivering the wrong search results to jihadi sympathizers as a counter-terrorism measure.

The Daily Mail reports:

As part of a pilot scheme, the search engine will show anti-radicalisation links when would-be jihadists type in words related to extremism.

The announcement was made by Dr Anthony House, a senior Google executive, while giving evidence to MPs in the UK parliament.

‘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.’

Google has yet to respond to on details of the pilot scheme, and whether it will be rolled out globally.

Dr House says the counter-narrative messages will appear in the sponsored links which are returned at the top of a Google search, rather than in the search results.

‘We offer Google AdWords Grants to NGOs so that meaningful counter-speech ads can be surfaced in response to search queries like ‘join Isis’, he said.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Google has received about 100,000 ‘flags’ from members of the public about content they consider inappropriate.

As a result, the company took down around 14 million videos from its YouTube site in 2014, some of which including material related to terrorism.

During the committee meeting, both Google and Facebook, declined to comment on details of how many people they employed to take down terrorist and extremist content

But last year, Google admitted that its YouTube site was so inundated that staff couldn’t filter all terror related content.

Google Public Policy Manager Verity Harding said that about 300 hours of video material is being uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it virtually impossible for the company to filter all images.

She said that ‘to pre-screen those videos before they are uploaded would be like screening a phone call before it’s made.’

The European Union’s counter-terror chief believes it’s time to help companies to contain the security risk by having experts from member states flagging terror-related content.

And the US is also urging technology companies to work with the government to combat terror threats.

The Obama administration last month sought to enlist Silicon Valley’s help in stopping terrorist groups from recruiting and mobilising followers online.

The US government also announced initiatives against violent extremism, including an overhaul of its efforts to counter extremist messages around the globe.

In Silicon Valley, top administration officials held a closed-door meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior executives from Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other tech firms.

While the session was described by tech company representatives as cordial, no specific agreement or other outcome was announced.

‘This meeting confirmed that we are united in our goal to keep terrorists and terror-promoting material off the Internet,’ Facebook said a statement.

Spokesmen for several other companies declined comment on the meeting.

A White House spokesman, meanwhile, took pains to describe tech leaders as patriotic Americans who have no interest in seeing ‘their tools and their technology being used to aid and abet terrorists.’

Leading Internet companies say they remove content that violates their policies by promoting terrorism or threatening violence, but they are reluctant to infringe on free speech.

They also don’t want to be viewed around the world as agents of the government.

And they have chafed at government officials’ criticism of tech companies’ refusal to provide ‘back doors’ into encryption programs that guard customers’ online messages and other files.


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