ICYMI: CEP Report Finds Users Over 3x More Likely to Encounter Extremist Material Than Counter-Narratives on YouTube Despite Redirect Program

(New York, NY) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) released a new report, “OK Google, Show Me Extremism: Analysis of YouTube’s Extremist Video Takedown Policy and Counter-Narrative Program,” that highlights the enduring problem of terrorist content on YouTube and determines the veracity of Google’s claims touting the efficacy of the company’s efforts to combat online extremism.                                

“Despite Google’s own efforts in touting the Redirect Method Pilot Program’s success, claims it is capable of changing the minds of individuals in danger of being radicalized by extremist ideology proliferating online are dubious at best,” said CEP Executive Director David Ibsen. “The only thing that is clear is YouTube and others still have significant problems with online extremism and current measures are not nearly enough.”

Among the report’s findings:  

  • Of the 710 videos sampled by CEP, 53 videos (more than 7.4 percent) were determined to include extremist propaganda, glorification of extremism or violent extremism.
  • Of the 53 videos found to have included extremist content, 25 videos (47.2 percent of the 53 extremist videos, 3.5 percent of the 710 videos checked) were explicitly violent in nature and/or showed gore.
  • Google’s efforts to promote counter-narrative content appear to be inconsistent and insufficient. CEP found only 15 videos (2.1 percent of the 710 videos checked) that may include counter-narrative messaging.   

Media coverage:   

CBS News: Report: YouTube Failing at Combating Extremism: CEP Deputy Director Lara Pham discusses a new CEP report showing that YouTube's program to suppress extremist videos and promote counter-narrative content is "insufficient and inconsistent."

CBS News: YouTube's efforts to combat extremist videos falling short, researchers say: An initiative by YouTube to minimize the exposure of videos advocating extremism is falling short, according to a new report from researchers with the Counter Extremism Project (CEP). The report criticizes the effectiveness of YouTube's efforts to suppress extremist videos and promote content that could dissuade potential recruits from joining terror groups. YouTube, which is owned by Google, incorporated aspects of the "Redirect Method" last year. The program uses advertising to steer users away from extremist content in search results and toward a playlist of pre-existing videos that debunk the ideology of violent extremists. But the researchers with CEP say they were three times more likely to encounter videos with extremist content in search results than videos that combat the propaganda. Between April 3 and April 4, 2018, they searched YouTube using four keywords that the Redirect Method says indicate "positive sentiments" toward the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

To explore the CEP report, “OK Google, Show Me Extremism: Analysis of YouTube’s Extremist Video Takedown Policy and Counter-Narrative Program,” please click here

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