Google to attempt to combat extremism and radicalisation

Feb 9th, 2016

With increased acknowledgement from world governments that much of the radicalisation that takes place does so online, Google’s own Doctor House has revealed their plans to offer ‘counter narratives’ in SERPs

Several major news outlets over the last couple of days have been reporting on an announcement by Google Executive Doctor Anthony House (to the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee) that Google are working on implementing a couple of pilot programmes to offer ‘counter-narratives around the world’.

Though there have been a number of misunderstandings – with some news outlets suggesting this would involve the skewing of organic search results to remove content linked to extremism from SERPs – the aim, according to a Google spokesperson, is to offer AdWords grants, worth $10,000 per month, to NGO’s with the aim of providing sponsored content counter-narrative messages in results for search terms suggestive of potential radicalisation such as ‘join ISIS’ (though they were available previous to this announcement, this publicity will no doubt see an increase in uptake).

When people put potentially damaging search terms into our search engine they (will) also find these counter narratives

Doctor Anthony House, Google Executive

Despite being less than the wholesale removal of possible extremist material from SERPs suggested by some, these AdWords grants offer search marketing professionals the chance to do what they do best – convince and convert, and is a move that seems to be a genuine attempt to externalise the unofficial Google motto ‘don’t be evil’.

For years internal digital marketing has taken pride in its ability to influence internet users, and though it remains to be seen how effective it can be, the chance for charities offering counter-narratives and the agencies representing them, to raise their online profile and potentially make a real difference globally at Google’s expense is a fantastic opportunity.

This offers the chance for search marketing – whether internal to the charity, or external agencies – to make a difference and potentially alter the lives of vulnerable internet users. All that remains to be seen is how many charitable organisations buy in to the experiment, and how well professionals in our industry can work our magic on this most worthy of causes.

Need help reaching the right people at the right time? Click Consult’s work with charities is consistently shortlisted for digital marketing awards; why not contact us to see what we can do for you?

The Author

John Warner

Father of two, keen sitter in chairs, reader of books and listener of podcasts – John earned a 2:1 degree in Literature and a Master’s Degree (with Distinction) in Creative Writing at some point in the distant past. John joined Click in 2015 and has spent the intervening time accruing industry certifications (Google IQ, AdWords, Mobile Sites and Digital Sales, Analytics for Power Users, and probably whatever has been released since then), HubSpot Inbound and Email, Semrush certifications, and completed a number of HTML and CSS courses. While he joined the agency with an almost exclusively creative educational background, John quickly found an affinity with the more technical aspects of search and has developed extensive experience in search strategy and technical SEO while retaining a passion for writing – which has seen him regularly contribute to top digital publishers such as State of Digital, Semrush, B2B Marketing, The Drum, and many more. In addition to this, John has presented at a variety of industry events on a host of search marketing topics, including SEO fundamentals, Google Data Studio, voice search and the intricacies and vagaries of Google’s algorithms. As Digital Marketing Manager, John oversees the internal marketing team and helps to design and implement the agency’s own SEO and Paid Media strategies.

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