Despite some people consider the internet has not played a major role on radicalisation process, a recent report released by ICSR (International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation) claims the spread of hate speech is nearly linked to the growth in the number of extremist groups that have been using social media platforms. In the report Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalisation that Lead to Terrorism: Ideas, Recommendations, and Good Practices from the OSCE Region, the expert Peter Neumann defends not only the removal of violent content from the internet, but also the development of counter-narratives to reduce the reach of extremist content.
According to him, the internet is not a threat to be censored, but a tool to be used to engage with people looking for answers and accurate information. For instance, people and organizations can produce counter-narratives while replying to some extremist comments on social media. Mr. Neumann explains:
The key to producing more and better content is to reverse the top-down approach that many governments instinctively favour, and – instead – empower young people and civil society to take the lead
One of the suggestions presented by the expert to tackle extremist discourse on the internet is the strategy #Rewind developed by a group of students from San Pablo CEU University in Spain. The project consists of creating a hashtag that encourages people to reconsider their offensive comments and behavior on social media. The campaign reached more than two million people in less than a year and was the winner of this year Peer to Peer (P2P)’s Facebook Global Digital Challenge.
Besides this campaign, the report also presents other 21 studies of case, which engaged different areas into the development of strategies to deconstruct extremist messages. In the chart below you can find some of the areas involved:
With this overview of good practices produced by different agents, experts and organizations can find some inspiration to develop new strategies in their countries and civil society can find some initiatives that offer valuable help to prevent young people from becoming extremists in the future.
The full report can be accessed here: http://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Countering-Violent-Extremism-and-Radicalisation-that-Lead-to-Terrorism.pdf
By Roanna Azevedo (UFRJ)