Feds tap U.K. company to ‘redirect’ Canadians away from violent extremism online

Interesting effort to leverage UK experience and expertise in prevention:

The federal government has tapped a U.K.-based company to attempt to “redirect” Canadians at risk of radicalization to violent extremism.

The Liberal government awarded Moonshot CVE a $1.5-million grant to develop a project called “Canada Redirect,” aimed at identifying extremist content online and pushing positive counter messaging at those seeking it out.

Micah Clark, Moonshot CVE’s Canada program director, said the idea is not to take down extremist propaganda, but to connect Canadians who are accessing it with alternative content.

Picture searching for white nationalist content on YouTube, only to be offered advertisements for counter radicalization and outreach resources in your “up next” playlist.

“Taking down accounts and trying to silence extremists online is a laudable goal, in one sense, but it doesn’t work with the logic of the internet … the fact that the internet grows in its own way,” Clark told the Star Tuesday.

“And so Redirect, the idea (is to) use the … logic of the internet, use the fact that people look for everything through a search engine, and try to use that to try and benefit people that may be at risk to radicalization to violence.”

According to Public Safety Canada, the redirect method has been deployed in a dozen countries since 2015. Moonshot CVE’s program would be a first for Canada.

The first challenge, Clark said, is identifying what extremist content Canadians are searching out.

Last month, Moonshot CVE provided the Star with a snapshot of the kind of right-wing extremist content Canadians are seeking out online — but that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has identified a growing white nationalist and right-wing extremist presence online in recent years. The internet is an important tool for any extremist ideology, to disseminate propaganda, build communities, and recruit adherents.

Clark said Moonshot CVE will not be focusing on any single extremist ideology, instead trying to connect counter messaging to any vulnerable Canadians at risk of radicalization.

Source: Feds tap U.K. company to ‘redirect’ Canadians away from violent extremism online