Google Apology Underscores Need to Address Pervasiveness of Extremist Content Online
(New York, NY) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today released a new report examining Google’s counter-narrative efforts, as controversy continues to swirl over ad placement on Google-owned YouTube.
U.K. officials demanded to know Friday why ads for taxpayer-funded services such as the Royal Navy and the BBC were appearing next to extremist videos on YouTube. Since then, a number of major retailers and advertising firms have either pulled their ads or have threatened to do so. Google has apologized and promised in the coming weeks to give brands a greater say over where their ads appear.
In Anwar al-Awlaki: Tracking Google’s Counter-Narrative Program, CEP examines Google’s February 2016 pledge to divert users away from radicalizing and extremist content towards anti-radicalization material by getting the “bad stuff” down and making counter-narrative material “more discoverable” in searches.
CEP found that the “bad stuff”—including lectures by Awlaki—have been consistently, and even increasingly available on YouTube. On December 19, 2015, a search for “Anwar al-Awlaki” on YouTube yielded 61,900 results. By February 3, 2017, this number had risen to 71,400. As CEP research shows, Awlaki—the first U.S. citizen targeted by a U.S. drone strike (September 30, 2011)—has been found to play an influencing role in dozens of U.S. and European terrorism-related cases.
To explore CEP’s report, Anwar al-Awlaki: Tracking Google’s Counter-Narrative Program, please click here.