'Redirection tool that confronts anti-vax theories under development by UK’s Moonshot'
'Technology used to counter violent messages online from Islamic State and the far right is being adapted to counter the spread of “anti-vax” conspiracy theories.
Moonshot CVE, a company currently working in as many as 28 countries, uses techniques to identify and intervene in the cases of internet users at risk of being radicalised online. Its technology has already been deployed to counter the KKK in the US, Isis and the far right in Europe.
Moonshot’s “redirect method”, which involves the use of online advertising targeted at Google and social media users searching for certain extremism-linked keywords, is now being turned to the problem of “vaccine hesitancy”, identified by the World Health Organization as one of the 10 greatest threats to global health this year.
Moonshot’s offices, full of spyholes and reinforced doors, sits behind a nondescript door in the East End of London. Data provided by the company to the Guardian on online searches performed in London for far-right memes and references over a recent four-month period shed light on the effectiveness of the tools being deployed.
They showed that there had been more than 557 searches for the keywords “kill blacks” and a further 126 for “killing blacks”. Other searches included 178 using the key words “14 words” (a reference to a slogan celebrated in far-right circles) and 56 searches for a PDF of the Turner Diaries, a racist and antisemitic novel that is credited with partly inspiring the Oklahoma City bomber and US terrorist Timothy McVeigh.
Vidhya Ramalingam, a specialist on far-right extremism who co-founded the company with Ross Frenett when they met at a counter-extremism thinktank, said employees ranged from software developers and coders to counter-terrorism experts, social workers and mental health professionals.
“We all challenge one another on a daily basis to ensure our methods are ethical, effective and built on evidence from other sectors, while pushing boundaries in our own,” she added.'
Read more: Anti-extremism software to be used to tackle vaccine disinformation