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.
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