Hazel Blears has announced an extra £45m over the next three years ‘to support communities to confront and isolate violent extremism’, with a particular focus on web stuff. You have to ‘page down’ through the press release a couple of times before you come to the word Muslim, but there’s no serious doubt which communities she has in mind.
The funding will facilitate an expansion of Internet based projects, radio stations and web-casts which are locally run and managed to give young people spaces and forums to share their views and discuss issues such as democracy and shared values. By encouraging young people to discuss these issues openly we will seek to undermine the influence of extremists who use the web as a propaganda tool to radicalise young British Muslims.
There’s clearly a problem with unpleasant material being ‘out there’… but will this be a solution? Hmm. I’m not sure you can use the word ‘discussion’ when the eventual outcome (that we should all love each other) is predetermined. And anyway, if someone gave you £Xmillion, what would you spend it on – SEO? Google Ads? If it’s any help, Google reckons we’d get 2-3 clickthroughs per day at an estimated average CPC of £0.35 – £0.45 if we bid on ‘al qaeda’.