“Don’t Be a Puppet” – FBI’s Shoddy Webdesign of Their Hip New Approach to Recruiting Teens Against Terror

So, The FBI put out an anti-violent-extremist website, and it’s horrendously out of touch.

It starts off with an awkward, stilted embedded YouTube video of the director of the FBI who claims, among other things, that the youth of today are vulnerable to recruitment to go fight a war overseas, and the fact that these youths are being mistakenly associated with hate groups is the reason for hate crimes against these young people. Um. There are words not being said and implications being made here.

Screenshot (11)
I took a screenshot, mostly because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.

Also, did you know the FBI has a YouTube account? That they uploaded their welcome video to, instead of, maybe, their actual government website? Regardless, I press forth, writing this article as I go and completely ensuring I’m going to end up on some sort of radical watch list after publication.

And, I mean, the design itself isn’t so bad at first. It’s a huge eyestrain, and just overall kind of overdone, but it’s not terrible. The puppet symbolism they have throughout the website is kind of heavy-handed. It’s fairly involved. There’s only one problem. Okay, there are many problems, but this is the biggest one I see from a design perspective.

The government knows that painting everything with red is how you draw in the Commies.

Every page has a loading screen. Every single one. Because the website is so overdone, you’re sitting waiting for pages to load, and it’s definitely not a fluid experience. Maybe I’m so used to fast loading times at this point in my life, but the loading screens themselves make the whole thing feel awkward, and presumably it’s only done to provide a few seconds of animation here or there. If it wasn’t for the content I would say that the website design reminds of one of those click and play games for kids.

Speaking of which.


Somebody, somewhere: “Teens like goats and retro gaming with blocks, right?” 

Slippery Slope (the first one – according to the website background there is a Slippery Slope II: Adventures of Poonikins, but you don’t get to play it) has awkward, unintuitive controls, is generally boring (there are six levels and if you die on almost every single level you can still make it to the end), and when you do beat it you just get a list of awkward phrases that are supposedly used to incite the youth to violent, extremist actions.

Overall, the website design is really, really poor. There’s no reason for them to do this, this isn’t appealing to their target market, and it’s kind of just a waste of time and money. You can see this by the number of people who have accessed the website the “correct” way – after playing the video, etc. – as opposed to being linked to it via the goat game on Tumblr or something. The video has around 6k plays at the time of this writing and was uploaded on February 8th, two weeks ago, quite possibly the worst early Valentine’s Day gift the FBI has to offer the public.

Honestly, this isn’t the way to appeal to teenagers. They don’t fall for this. Maybe preteens, or “the tweens,” but not older kids. Especially since I found the website itself from teenagers mocking it on the internet.


One thought on ““Don’t Be a Puppet” – FBI’s Shoddy Webdesign of Their Hip New Approach to Recruiting Teens Against Terror

  1. FFS. The average age of gamers today is 35. Video games have been around since the 70’s… it’s not a hip new invention. Today, the kidlets are probably reading Chomsky while their parents are grinding away on Minecraft or Diablo 2.


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