Advertising supports hosting of terrorist manifesto

A project jointly run by the NSW, Victorian and South Australian state governments has been advertised along side a terrorist manifesto advocating the killing of Jews, Muslims and Christians.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute found the advertising late last night as we updated a presentation for a hearing in the Victorian Parliament today. At the Inquiry into anti-Vilification laws this morning we showed the committee members an image from last night of the website hosting a manifesto from the terrorist attack which occurred in Halle, Germany, last October. The attack, which targeted a synagogue, was timed for Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar. OHPI’s work led to multiple copies of the manifesto, and video of the attack, being taken offline. This copy was showing up in Google search results and hosting Google ads.

The advertisement in the bottom right corner for “Building Upgrade Finance” links to a website which is part of a joint project by the NSW, Victorian and South Australian state governments.

This means the tax payer has been paying money to Google, some of which Google is retaining as revenue, and some of which it is passing on to a company who was hosting this terrorist manifesto. The problem here is the lack of transparency around Google advertising and where it appears. We went through the same problem with an Australian of company, and rapidly helped them resolve it, just one month ago.

As is our practice, we notified the Building Upgrade Finance site of the problem shortly after finding it and provided recommendations to resolve it. Before 10:30am the actions we recommended had been taken. The manifesto was down. The site that hosted it was blocked from receiving further advertising revenue from this project. We congratulate the staff behind the project on their swift action and resolution of the issue.

Thankfully as of this morning, this copy of the terrorist manifesto has now been removed and is instead showing a “404” not found error. Until there is better control of who can host Google advertising, and where it appears, and better transparency for advertisers, it’s only a matter of time until something like this happens again.

In the mean time, we will remain vigilant and continue our work to get terrorist material which advocates violence taken off the internet. It should not be there. It should not be showing up in search results. It should be illegal, not profitable, to host such content.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute is a Registered Australian Charity we tackle all forms of online hate and extremism. Donations to support our general work can be made via the PayPal Giving Fund and in a number of other ways.

This briefing was researched and prepared by Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute.