Nearly half a million teenagers and young adults who had posted content with terms like “sharia” or “mujahideen” began last fall seeing a series of animated videos pop up on their Facebook news feeds.
In one, cartoon figures with guns appear underneath an Islamic State flag. “Do not be confused by what extremists say, that you must reject the new world. You don’t need to pick,” the narrator says. “Remember, peace up. Extremist thinking out.”
The videos are part of three experiments—funded by Google parent Alphabet Inc., with help from Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.—that explore how to use the machinery of online advertising to counterbalance the growing wave of extremist propaganda on the internet, both from Islamist radicals and far-right groups.
The goal: See what kinds of messages and targeting could reach potential extremists before they become radicalized—and then quickly roll the model out to content producers across the internet.
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Image courtesy of AVERAGE MOHAMED via WSJ