Ethical Data Scientists: Will You Support A False Narrative – “Community of Hope?”

Google executive Anthony House advocates a false narrative, a “community of hope” as a counter to truthful content from the Islamic State:

We should get the bad stuff down [online], but it’s also extremely important that people are able to find good information, that when people are feeling isolated, that when they go online, they find a community of hope, not a community of harm. (Google plans to fight extremist propaganda with AdWords)

Islamic State media is offering a community of hope. One based on facts, not a fantasy of Western planners.

The more immediate, but no less intractable, challenge is to change the reality on the ground in Syria and Iraq, so that ISIS’s narrative of Sunni Muslim persecution at the hands of the Assad regime and Iranian-backed Shiite militias commands less resonance among Sunnis. One problem in countering that narrative is that some of it happens to be true: Sunni Muslims are being persecuted in Syria and Iraq. This blunt empirical fact, just as much as ISIS’s success on the battlefield, and the rhetorical amplification and global dissemination of that success via ISIS propaganda, helps explain why ISIS has been so effective in recruiting so many foreign fighters to its cause. (Why It’s So Hard to Stop ISIS Propaganda)

Persecution of Sunni Muslims aren’t the only facts in the Islamic State narrative. Consider the following:

  • Muslim governments exist at the sufferance of the West. Ex. Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Syria
  • Existing “Muslim” leaders are vassals of the West.
  • For more than a century the West has dictated the fate of Muslims in the Middle East.
  • The West supports oppression of the Palestinian people.
  • The West opposes democratic results in Muslim countries that don’t accord with its wishes.

We might disagree on the phrasing of those facts but can an ethical data scientist say they are not true?

Whatever the motivation of the West in each case, the West wants to decide the fate of Muslims.

Is the “community of hope” Google portrays to be based on false hopes or new realities on the ground?

There’s a question for all the “ethical” data scientists at Google.

Will you support a false narrative by Google for a “community of hope” to deter terrorism?

One Response to “Ethical Data Scientists: Will You Support A False Narrative – “Community of Hope?””

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