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YouTube is trying to change the minds of those vulnerable to Islamic radicalism

It has a 4-step fan to fight extremism.

Jul 20, 2017, 5:48 pm*

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Josh Katzowitz

YouTube is going all in on countering those who could fall under the spell of extremism.

In a blog post released on Thursday, YouTube said it would redirect people who are searching for terrorist or extremist content and steer them toward videos that debunk the messages that are utilized by extremist groups.

This announcement comes about a month after Google said it had four new ways to remove terrorism content from the video site, including increasing the use of machine learning to identify those types of extreme videos.

On Thursday, YouTube said it would introduce the Redirect Method, which essentially takes users who are looking for that extreme content and instead directs them toward debunking videos. When a person uses certain keywords on YouTube, the site instead will show a playlist of videos that counters “violent extremist recruiting narratives.”

“This early product integration of the Redirect Method on YouTube is our latest effort to provide more resources and more content that can help change minds of people at risk of being radicalized,” YouTube wrote in its post.

As the Verge points out, an early pilot of the Redirect Method sent 320,000 people to watch more than 500,000 minutes of ISIS-refuting videos.

YouTube is taking a four-pronged approach to this issue that it says will be implemented in the next few weeks.

  1. It will increase the emphasis on a wider set of search terms in languages other than English.
  2. It will let machine learning “dynamically” update the search terms. According to Google, machine learning has helped discover more than half of the content it has removed this year.
  3. It will work with experts to develop additional video content for YouTube that will counter extreme message “at different parts of the radicalization funnel.”
  4. Along with Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Alphabet which helped develop the Redirect Method, YouTube will expand that system into Europe.

According to an acquaintance of one of the suspects who drove a van into pedestrians on the London Bridge last month before a stabbing spree that killed several people and injured dozens more, the attacker watched YouTube videos of a radical American preacher. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, British Prime Minster Theresa May said she wanted “big” internet companies to keep Islamic extremists from finding a safe place online. She also said social media sites should create a backdoor for authorities to look at private data.

The goal for YouTube with Thursday’s announcement is simple.

“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 wrote. “As we develop this model of the Redirect Method on YouTube, we’ll measure success by how much this content is engaged. Stay tuned for more.”

H/T the Verge

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*First Published: Jul 20, 2017, 5:47 pm