Software designed for anti-extremism to be used against vaccine misinformation

Software designed for anti-extremism to be used against vaccine misinformation
Photo: Pixabay

The steady rise of the anti-vaccination (anti-vaxx) movement is becoming one of the biggest global concerns with the re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Now, a technology designed to fight against violent content from the far-right movement and the Islamic State is being adapted to halt the spread of anti-vaxx misinformation. The specialized software is from Moonshot CVE, a company currently operating in 28 countries.

The software uses algorithms to identify and intervene in possible risks of online radicalization. It is being used to counter the KKK in the United States, Far-Right and ISIS in the EU.

“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,” says the company co-founder Vidhya Ramalingam, a specialist on far-right extremism.

The company, also founded by Ross Frenett, is using the “redirect method” to protect internet users from extremism-linked keywords, is now being used to tackle the issue of vaccine hesitancy.

“The internet can be used to spread dangerous behaviors and ideas, but there is an opportunity for us to get creative and use technology to solve some of the world’s most complex problems,” Ramalingam added.

As for the issue of spreading extremist messages online and how it is prevented through intervention methods, Frenett says

“When an individual is engaging with violent extremist content online, they might be searching for this content on Google or posting this content on Facebook.”

“They’ll see an advertisement, or receive a direct message, which offers counseling or social support. This is an entry for us. If we can get that person into a one-on-one conversation with a social worker, that’s the starting point for longer-term change.”