I’m not saying the FBI’s heart isn’t in the right place. Making sure children know the difference between healthy political discourse and attempts to sway them into extremism is a laudable goal. But the agency’s execution in a new website is just embarrassing.
The FBI just announced the launch of its “Don’t Be a Puppet” program. The too-interactive website is designed to create awareness of the problem of extremism among teens. “Don’t Be a Puppet” includes five stages where teens can get answers to questions like “What is violent extremism?” and “How do violent extremists make contact?”
It’s just all done in that “Yo kids, what’s up? I’m a cool adult” tone that government committee adopt too often. There’s a sense that the who.e thing was made in 1996:
You know how teens today love their first generation Game Boys in the year 2016? That’s actually a game called the “Slippery Slope to Extremism,” in which you guide a fast moving animal out of the way of obstacles that are—I think—meant to represent extremists. I tried to play and died a lot. And I think the animal is a sheep because, you know, sheeple.
Oh, and here’s a quiz about how violent extremists try to recruit you. It’s also a chance for the FBI to tell teens both that they know what they’re doing on the internet and that this great nation’s federal law enforcement agency doesn’t understand the internet one bit.
Or how about this game about the language violent extremists use? In this level, you’re supposed to match the statement to the rhetorical technique. I am still baffled, because some of them match more than one answer.
Because we live in America, there’s also a lot of time devoted to the First Amendment. Before you can enter the game, there’s a line of text that reminds you:
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech and religious liberty. People living in America are free to disagree with each other and with the government, but no one has the right to resort to violence as a means of expressing disagreement.
Inside the site, is this:
I guess I’m glad they’re not pretending free speech doesn’t exist? I just wish they weren’t so bad at making me take this thing seriously.
Everything about this site screams awful, out-of-touch 90s educational game—down to the hulkingly giant PCs, complete with blue screens of death. I think I played a bunch of point-and-click games just like this in elementary school, actually. Only they were trying to teach me math and not how to spot a terrorist.
Try again, FBI.
[6:24] I am now in a torture bunker with a projector and slides. What is this website?