London’s Met Police running adverts on Google

It seems that the Metropolitan Police has turned to Google to place adverts on the internet calling for people to report suspected Right Wing Extremists – and the advert is directing people to the Met Police’s anti-terrorism web pages.

Met Police advert on GoogleFor reasons which are more “gut instinct” than intellectual, I feel really uncomfortable with that.

Surely we live in a free society, and while I personally think hard-right wing political and social views be very yeugh-inducing, I also strongly believe that people have a right to hold whatever views they want. So long as you stay within the law of the land – you can think the world is flat, evolution is false and that Stalin was just misunderstood for all I care. Equally, I expect to be allowed to challenge your views through debate and argument.

I can certainly understand the police wanting to encourage people to report crimes to them – but is holding far-right political views now a crime in the UK?

Would the police (indeed, ARE the police) running adverts headlined with “Muslim Terrorist – Suspect it? Report it. Your call could be vital to us.” How about “Communist Sympathiser – Suspect it? Report it. Your call could be vital to us.”

Again, I can’t put into a detailed intellectual debate why I am uncomfortable with that Google advert, but the discomfort was undeniably heightened by the fact that it appeared on my own blog, specifically the “about me” page, where I comment on my Libertarian political views. Google adverts are targeted by keyword, so someone in the Met Police (or their ad agency) chose what words appearing on a web page should trigger the displaying of the advert – and evidently my combination of political terms set off some sort of alarm and resulted in the advert appearing.

This is just something which makes me very uncomfortable and just feels wrong for the police to be doing in a democratic society.

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8 Comments

  1. Good grief!

    The ad is being served to me as I write this comment. Interestingly, the ad immediately below has “Right Wing” as its title and “Right Wing Political News & Opinion – The Week Magazine Covers All.” as its content.

    This makes me suspect that, appallingly, they may simply be using “Right Wing” as their keywords.

    I think this could tell us something about the mindset of our politicised police service and could actually be a story of importance. I am sure Iain Dale or Guido would waste no time in following it up further if they were to learn about it.

    At the very least, I’d be very temped to fire off an FoI request to find out which keywords they’re buying. I wonder how many hard-left blogs advocating economic extremism or fanatically religious keywords are being targetted…

  2. dar

    our goose is cooked
    ‘benevolent’ totalitarianism is nigh

  3. petoskystone

    perhaps it is the libertiarian leanings which trigger the met police to think that you disprove so highly of right-wing rhetoric that if you knew of anyone, you would report it. why would the police target your blog if they thought you were the danger? rather, if you were the suspected right-winger, the police would be targeting people who read your blog, or who work with you. after all, why would the police want to tip off a suspected ‘extremist’?

  4. IanVisits

    Unfortunately, as I am not allowed to click on the Google advert, there is no point the Met Police advertising on my site to reach me directly.

    (You can dig into the Google admin tool to find the destination URL – but it is a pain)

    This just smells of the Met Police getting involved in “political policing” which is a worry.

  5. Are there no left-wing terrorists?

  6. As the Met police will have to pay for each time some one clicks on one of those google adds, I suggest everyone who sees one clicks on it.

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