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Google Ideas tackles violent extremism

The Web giant launches a new online initiative to bring together former extremists, survivors, nonprofits, academics, and private sector leaders to fight violent radicalism.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Google is using technology to try to curb violent extremism around the world. Working with a think tank, venture philanthropists, and other partners, Google Ideas helped launch a new online network called Against Violent Extremism (AVE) today.

"What do a former violent jihadist from Indonesia, an ex-neo-Nazi from Sweden and a Canadian who was held hostage for 15 months in Somalia have in common?" director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen wrote in a blog post today. "In addition to their past experiences with radicalization, they are all also members of Against Violent Extremism."

AVE's goal is to bring together former extremists, survivors, nonprofits, academics, and private sector leaders to combine forces and use online tools to figure out how to prevent people from becoming radicalized.

"We also knew that there has traditionally been an over-reliance on governments to tackle these problems, so we wanted to see what diverse groups outside the public sector could offer," Cohen wrote, "...using the Internet to ensure sustained discussion and debate."

Google Ideas was founded in October 2010 by Cohen who previously worked on the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning staff. The plan was to create what he calls a "think/do tank" and use technology to deal with human challenges, such as gang violence, war, and extremism.

Still in beta, the AVE Web site will be managed by the London-based think tank Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Google Ideas' partner. The site will have videos, research, online tools, forums, and an interactive map that lists nearby events, people, and resources.

"Until now, there has never before been a one-stop shop for people who want to help fight these challenges--a place to connect with others across sectors and disciplines to get expertise and resources," Cohen wrote.

Google Ideas' video about AVE: