YouTube Redirecting Potential Isis Recruits to Anti-Terrorist Content

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The Redirect Method was created by Google parent Alphabet's security tech incubator in partnership with Moonshot CVE (Countering Violent Extremism), a not-for-profit startup that works with clients to counter extremism.

YouTube is moving to restore trust in the wake of an advertiser boycott in which some brands froze spend with the platform amid fears they may inadvertently become associated with videos espousing violence, extremism and hate-speech.

While YouTube's redirect strategy now only works in English, the site will soon bring it to other languages.

When people search for certain keywords on YouTube that would previously have turned up extremist videos, they'll now see a curated playlist of titles that debunk that ideology. Going forward, YouTube plans to grow the list of search queries so that it can also redirect users who are searching the platform in languages other than English. Their research informed the creation of the Redirect Method, and Google has adopted it to prevent people from encountering harmful content on YouTube.

"We hope our work together will also help open and broaden a dialogue about other work that can be done to counter radicalization of potential recruits", YouTube said in a blog post Thursday outlining the new feature.

Extremist groups turn to video sharing sites to radicalize supporters and spread their message, but a YouTube strategy will help counter those efforts. In addition, YouTube said it will work with expert nongovernmental organizations to develop new video content created to counter violent extremist messaging "at different parts of the radicalization funnel".

In terms of measuring how successful the Redirect Method is, Google says it will simply observe how much engagement the content receives from people being redirected to it.

While superficially commendable, the Redirect Method does raise the specter of intervention and censorship.

Google had pledged to take additional steps in curbing extremist content from its platform and identified four additional steps that will be taken on YouTube towards this end. Last month, YouTube joined with Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter to form a new coalition to make their services "hostile to terrorists and violent extremists".

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