How Google Is Using Targeted Advertising To Stop ISIS Recruits

By utilizing search to funnel better information

To deter potential ISIS recruits, Google is trying a new strategy. Jigsaw, Google’s technology incubator, has figured out words and phrases that people associated with ISIS often search for. The aim isn’t to track or identify them, but to change their minds; Jigsaw will seed the search results with ads that link to YouTube channels filled with anti-ISIS videos.

"The Redirect Method is at its heart a targeted advertising campaign: Let's take these individuals who are vulnerable to ISIS' recruitment messaging and instead show them information that refutes it," Yasmin Green, Jigsaw's head of research and development, told Wired.

The channels are populated with preexisting videos, such as testimonials from former extremists, or shots of long food lines in ISIS-controlled Raqqa, Syria. In a pilot project earlier this year, more than 300,000 people clicked over to Jigsaw’s YouTube channels over about two months.

This month, the program will move into its next phase to target both ISIS recruits and white supremacists.