Violent extremism proves to be one of the greatest challenges faced by modern society, and violent extremists -- those who support or commit ideologically-motivated violence -- are no longer confined by borders. The Internet has emerged as a key arena in which extremists engage with the public, from viral videos and fake news to hijacked hashtags and bot networks. But if technology is a powerful tool for violent extremism, perhaps it can also be a powerful tool in the fight against it.
Working with the U.S. Department of State, our team designed and prototyped interventions to tackle the drivers of extremism. Through dozens of interviews, we learned that radicalization is an incremental process, often beginning with something as simple as a strong opinion that becomes amplified through algorithms in the news and unintended consequences of social media.
Taking an upstream approach, we designed Colorfeed, a browser extension that breaks down echo chambers by exposing Facebook users to the diversity of their news feeds. Without being intrusive, hues and saturation are used provoke curiosity and convey valuable information about one's browsing habits, helping users learn to engage effectively with diverse viewpoints.