YouTube says it will crack down on online Islamist extremism by redirecting anyone who searches for terrorist videos to instead show them films countering the propaganda.
Anyone searching for terms relating to the Islamic State group will be offered playlists of videos “debunking its mythology”, the company said.
The move comes after social media firms have come under fierce political criticism for allegedly doing too little to stop the spread of extremist material said to be responsible for radicalising would-be jihadists.
In a blog post, the video-streaming giant owned by Google said: “When people search for certain keywords on YouTube, we will display a playlist of videos debunking violent extremist recruiting narratives.”
YouTube said it would be using techniques developed by the Redirect Method, a campaign that tries to steer those who might be vulnerable to Islamic State group propaganda towards videos that debunk the group’s recruitment tactics.
Rather than making new videos, users will be directed towards existing anti-Islamic State group films already updated from around the world, the BBC reported.
Suitable films are expected to include testimony from Islamic State deserters, describing what life in the group was really like, or speeches from imams denouncing violence and extremism.
The Redirect Method says pre-existing videos, rather than specially commissioned content, are more effective because they are seen to be more trustworthy.
YouTube said it would told begin redirecting users searching for particular terms in English, but would later add other languages including Arabic.
While anybody searching for terrorist propaganda would be redirected, including academics and journalists, YouTube said such content was already against its terms and conditions and was removed when discovered.
Western security agencies have complained that online extremist material, such as sermons from hate preachers, is too readily available on social media and has played a significant part in the radicalisation of some vulnerable jihadists.
YouTube said the move was “our latest effort to provide more resources and more content that can help change minds of people at risk of being radicalized”.
YouTube said it had worked with campaign groups to try to tackle the problem.
The statement said: “We hope our work together will also help open and broaden a dialogue about other work that can be done to counter radicalization of potential recruits.”
Speaking in Paris in June, Theresa May suggested online firms could face punishment for failing to remove extremist content.
She said “more should be done to tackle the terrorist threat online”. She said “poisonous propaganda” was “warping young minds” and the UK and France would “work together to encourage corporations to do more and abide by their social responsibility … including exploring the possibility of creating a new legal liability for tech companies if they fail to remove unacceptable content.”