If there’s one thing you can say about ISIS, besides the fact that it’s a medieval death cult responsible for inconceivable blood crimes, it’s that its recruiters are very charming on social media. But don’t worry: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is ready to fight back. It used your tax dollars to create Don’t Be A Puppet, a website for educating teens on violent extremism and the ways that online recruiters make contact. I took the site for a spin yesterday to earn an online certificate (really) in “countering violent extremism,” and quickly discovered: The FBI is bad at talking to teens.
The site’s main tactic for teaching its users about violent extremism is a set of quizzes, which cover not just international groups like ISIS but also white supremacists and that scourge of 21st-century America, environmental extremists.
You’ll realize that we’re working with something special when you arrive at this, the FBI’s mockup of a teen’s computer screen. You know, Just Teen Things: hundreds of lines of HTML and CSS.
My favorite portion of the site is for quizzes that help teens identify which sorts of online posts might actually be recruiters in disguise.
Which one of these fake Reddit posts is actually an ISIS recruiter in disguise? Tricky, right? (It’s the post about justifiable bombings.)
This one’s great. Here is what the FBI believes: that violent extremists will go through the process of developing a video game and passing certification on digital distribution platform Steam — sorry, “Water Gas” — just to get new members.
Developing a video game as a propaganda tool and distributing it on Steam? Who would do something like that?
“Mr. Falcon” needs your help. Which of his friends has trouble correctly using quotation marks?
This next one is hard. Which of your “Blastoff” friends is a violent extremist?
“I know we haven’t met, but you should come join our fight overseas.” Boom. That’s an incredibly strong opener. Sean’s a violent international extremist, but he won’t waste your time.
Finally, after completing all of the quizzes, you get a neat certificate with a creepy mannequin image.