New York, NY, June 24, 2019 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), Moonshot CVE and the Gen Next Foundation today announced a partnership to counter white supremacist and jihadist activity online. The program, dubbed the Redirect Method, will use advertising to redirect individuals who search online for violent extremist material to content that exposes the falsehoods of extremist narratives and directs searchers to non-violent content.
This new effort borrows from best practices Moonshot CVE developed with Google for ISIS-related searches, and builds on the previous deployment of the Redirect Method USA – which the RAND Corporation found showed promise – in partnership with the Gen Next Foundation.
“White supremacy is a global terror threat that’s increasing dramatically, in part due to its ability to spread online, but there have not been sufficient efforts at scale to counter them--from either the public or the private sector,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We must deploy all of the tools at our disposal, including finding new ways to use technology for good, to aggressively counter the threat of online extremism and white supremacy.”
ADL, which has been carefully monitoring extremist activity for decades, is providing subject matter expertise and unique insights to lead the project. This will be coupled with Moonshot CVE’s technology to build and run 3,142 individual campaigns across all counties in the U.S. throughout a one-year period. The Gen Next Foundation is funding the project and will add additional private sector expertise. ADL expects the results will provide promising insight into how those interested in white supremacist ideology engage with online content and how commercial advertising technology can be adapted to fight extremism.
“Launching the Redirect Method in every county in the United States represents a major step forward in the fight against white nationalism and jihadism in the online space,” said Vidhya Ramalingam, Moonshot CVE Founder. “Even when terrorist material is removed from the internet, the person searching for it is left behind. The Redirect Method ensures that those vulnerable individuals are provided with an alternative in the form of positive and credible counter-content. We are proud to take on this fight in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and the Gen Next Foundation.”
“Through the Redirect Method, we have learned about the similarities in the underlying narratives used by violent jihadis and violent white supremacists to radicalize and recruit youth online,” said Michael Davidson, CEO of Gen Next. “The interplay between these groups has been evolving rapidly and our ability to counter the threat depends on having access to the best data and the best partners. We are excited to welcome ADL to the partnership, and we look forward to leveraging their experience and expertise so that we can keep future generations safe.”
The data is clear: white supremacist threats are increasing. ADL research has found that of the 50 murders committed by extremists in 2018, all but one were linked to right-wing extremism and 78% were tied specifically to white supremacy. White supremacists have also recently stepped up efforts to spread their propaganda in person, distributing literature and holding events. According to recent ADL research, these efforts increased 182 percent in 2018, with 1,187 distributions, up from 421 total incidents reported in 2017. ADL’s Center on Extremism released a report on the broad trends in the growth of white supremacy and the populations who support the ideology.
As with ISIS and other extremist movements, white supremacists seek to spread their ideology and are using technology to do so, underscoring the urgency for innovative efforts like this. Partners for this initiative include ADL and the original Redirect Method team – Moonshot CVE and the Gen Next Foundation.
Who are the partners involved in this new initiative and what exactly will it entail?
The partnership between ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), Moonshot CVE and the Gen Next Foundation will work to establish a program known as the Redirect Method to counter white supremacist and jihadist activity online.
What is ADL’s role in this program?
ADL will provide both subject matter expertise and a broader leadership role. We have been carefully monitoring extremist activity for decades, which enables us to provide unique insights on extremist codewords. As leaders in counter-extremism, we will chart the strategic direction and help facilitate extremism expertise and tech sector connections.
How does the Redirect Method work?
The Redirect Method is an open-source methodology developed by Moonshot CVE in partnership with Google’s Jigsaw, which uses advertising to connect vulnerable individuals attracted to extremist or hateful content on search engines with alternative content that discredits or undermines such beliefs.
Individuals searching for extremist content will be presented with an advertisement - which, if clicked, will redirect them toward the curated YouTube playlists of counter-narrative content (the redirected content has been produced by a wide range of creators – from established brands and well-known former extremists). Such ads will look exactly like commercial ads, but will use phrasing that directly relates to what at-risk individuals were searching for in the first place.
What if an individual still wants to find extremist content?
Individuals seeking out extremist content will not find their access to it blocked. Instead, they will simply find alternative content. Not only does this not inhibit the marketplace of ideas, it helps improve the health of that market by ensuring that hateful propaganda can be chosen right next to positive and intellectually honest information. We hope to incentivize good speech, while not limiting bad speech, so that individuals choose positive and honest information.