Google's Internet Justice League

- November 16th, 2016

The battle to promote equality and protect the internet’s weakest users is waged on the biggest platform of all.

Google’s Jigsaw (NASDAQ:GOOGL) division incubates new ideas (indeed its previous name was Google Ideas) and pieces them together to fight all types of cybersecurity, be it against censorship, hackers or below-the-line bullying. Reading comment sections on blogs and news sites often isn’t pretty. With a mission statement “to use technology to tackle the toughest geopolitical challenges,” Jigsaw aims to change the script.
If the internet is an intangible parallel of the real world, Jigsaw acts as the FBI of cybersecurity. Jigsaw aims to police playground bullies running riot online and “level the playing field”, says founder and president Jared Cohen. Their work responds to cases where “some governments pass increasingly harsh laws that crack down on free speech.” The problem with the web is that these are issues you can’t put your finger on and it’s hard to combat a silent threat that you can’t see or quantify. Enter Conversation AI, machine learning software, that is trained to filter abuse. Freedom of expression is an oft-abused human right, used irresponsibly to attack feminists or minority groups.
Cohen shares the same ambitious lofty sentiments as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who aims “to help cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime.” He is shooting for the moon aiming to end censorship within a decade. The emphasis on openness echoes Zuckerberg’s mandate: “making the world more transparent”. Zuckerberg was hacked for the third time this year by OurMine, who offer security solutions to their targets, whether sincere or not, claiming victims shouldn’t “worry, we are just testing your security”. Google Jigsaw is a free public service, hoping to shift the balance of power away from what is essentially blackmail.
They have partnered with Arbor Networks, data providers for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These events are often concurrent with violent shifts of power or global acts of terror, such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. 

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In related news, YouTube has taken elements of Facebook and Pinterest to allow creators to like and pin preferred comments on their posts. Although surely with good intentions, this veers off into tricky territory where comments, both negative and positive, are not equally weighted. The alternative is that broadcasters disable comments altogether. At the moment, YouTube commenters can hide behind usernames, which undoubtedly frees them up to write abusive messages that they would never say in person.
Jigsaw hasn’t turned a profit yet but concerns itself with being on the right side of the war. There is always a market for such initiatives so investors will be satisfied both monetarily and philanthropically.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Emma Harwood, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

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