Zola's Algorithm was a program written by Arnim Zola to identify targets for HYDRA by analyzing people's data available online, including private data, to predict whether they currently posed a threat for the organization or would in the future. It was used in the framework of Project Insight.
HYDRA scientist Arnim Zola was recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of World War II thanks to Operation Paperclip. From there, Zola worked to undermine S.H.I.E.L.D. from within and recreate HYDRA with corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. members. Following the Battle of New York, Nick Fury convinced the World Security Council that they needed a surge in threat analysis, which led to the creation of Project Insight. Project Insight involved three Helicarriers, which had been modified by Tony Stark to stay in the air infinitely and synced to a network of targeting satellites launched from the Lemurian Star. The Helicarriers would then eliminate threats globally using an algorithm that could analyze large amounts of personal data and assess potential threats and eliminate them before they could commit crimes. In reality, the algorithm, designed by Zola, had been created to serve HYDRA's purpose, intending to use the Insight Helicarriers to enact a fascist new world order and eliminate anyone who would oppose their regime.
Days before the Insight Helicarriers were to be launched, Fury developed suspicions and hired Georges Batroc to hijack the Lemurian Star so that he could send Natasha Romanoff to download the algorithm for analysis. Unable to access it, however, Fury asked Alexander Pierce to delay Project Insight, which resulted in HYDRA executing an assassination attempt on Fury and another on Captain America. HYDRA moles assigned to Project Insight hijacked the Insight Helicarriers, which were launched in the air. Once they reached working altitude, Zola's algorithm was deployed under orders of Captain Russo and identified thousands of targets to be eliminated, including Stark, Rogers, Maria Hill, Stephen Strange, Bruce Banner and President Matthew Ellis.
However, HYDRA's plans were thwarted by the combined efforts of Rogers, Romanoff, Hill and Sam Wilson, which resulted in the destruction of the Helicarriers and, possibly, the destruction of Zola's algorithm.
Zola's algorithm was able to review large amounts of personal information and process it in a very short time in order to assess whether an individual was a potential threat to HYDRA. The algorithm analyzed data from various subject areas: financial records, medical histories, voting patterns, and phone conversations as well as all electronic messages.
When first activated during the Battle at the Triskelion, Zola's algorithm identified thousands of targets deemed current or potential threats to HYDRA, including the following: