Sounds like a DNS exploit, but it is not. It uses ads to fight extremism. Very innovative, sort of like fighting fire with fire. Since the likes social media news feeds creates feedback loops that create echo chamber bubbles (or as I like say “social inbreeding”), the London based Moonshot CVE, targets users based on their “hate” search terms with ads which attempt to educate or show a different view/interpretation.
Fighting fire with fire may be a good start in reversing the “hate” trends we have witnessed worldwide and especially in the U.S. Much of this, I believe, is fueled by…well, lets just just say the fish rots from the head down – not only politically, but also applies private tech companies, etc.
Now a private start-up company has developed an unusual solution based on ordinary online marketing tools. It sends those who plug extremist search terms into Google to videos that promote anti-extremist views.
Known as the Redirect Method, it was first used against potential recruits for the Islamic State, but recently it has been repurposed against white supremacy in the United States.
The London-based start-up, Moonshot CVE, has worked with the Anti-Defamation League and Gen Next Foundation, a philanthropic organization, to develop a pilot program tailored for the United States. It ran for several months last summer, and senior counterterrorism officials have endorsed the method.
“I think in general that U.S. government work in the prevention space has been a little bit slow in coming, but this strikes us as a very worthwhile program that should continue,” said Russell E. Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. “Anything you can do to stop individuals from consuming the kind of very gruesome radicalization potential that you see on the internet and take them someplace else — just common sense tells me that is a good thing to do.”
Moonshot buys ads like any other company on Google, and pays per click. Sometimes it will self-finance a run, like it did in New Zealand and Australia for 24 hours after attacks on mosques in March, when it knew extremist searches would spike. It uses money earned from government programs or from teaching seminars on countering terrorism. More often, it gets funding from governments and private companies or foundations.
To understand the approach, it is useful to consider another Top 20 search term like “The Turner Diaries,” a dystopian 1978 novel about white supremacists seizing control of the United States.
A search for the “Diaries” could trigger a Google advertisement at the top of the page that says: “Proud of your heritage? | What you are not being told. Find out more information by watching our playlist.”
Clicking on the ad would pull up a YouTube playlist of about five to eight short videos consisting of various people, including former extremists, explaining why the ideology is misguided.
The playlist could include a clip from the movie “American History X,” whose white supremacist central character undergoes a transformation after befriending a black man in prison. Former white supremacists have credited the movie with subverting their worldview.
The idea is not to berate the adherents of extremist ideology, but to help them change their minds themselves, said Ludovica di Giorgi, who manages the Redirect Method program.
Moonshot buys ads on Google and pays per click. It does not earn money on clicks.
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
or in the spirit of the season
“They are Man’s and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol