Bridging Transatlantic Voices: Civic Approaches to Confronting Violent Extremism

ABBAS BARZEGARY,DR. SHAWN POWERS ANDNAGHAM EL KARHILI, SEPTEMBER 2016

Bridging Transatlantic Voices is a civil society dialogue project funded by the European Commission’s Foreign Policy Instrument. The programme focuses on civil society efforts in countering violent extremism (CVE). Over three years (2015-2018), the British Council with partners from Georgia State University and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue will hold six workshops in six cities on this subject.

The project will also produce a total of three reports containing sector-wide, civil society and policy recommendations for the European Union and major CVE organisations and government entities to utilise in their efforts towards this widely popular issue of countering violent extremism. This first report was released in September 2016 and is authored by scholars at Georgia State University.

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The Online Ecosystem of the German Far-Right

This report presents the findings of a research project of ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit about the alternative online-ecosystem of the far-right, including alternative social media platforms and alternative media outlets. While these platforms draw in a global audience this report focuses specifically on the German speaking and Germany-focused communities and outlets within this ecosystem. Drawing together ISD’s digital ethnographic work across dozens of forums and channels with the latest in machine learning and natural language processing, this report provides an overview over the size and nature of the far-right communities on these platforms the motivations for participating in these communities and assesses whether banning far-right groups from mainstream platforms leads to the displacement of their followers to ‘alternative’ platforms. We also analyse the role of alternative ‘news’ outlets in disseminating far right concepts, drawing on the‘Hate Observatory’, a joint initiative of ISD and the MIT Media Lab , based on their Media Cloud software, and compare the frequency and types of coverage of far-right themes in mainstream and alternative media. This report also recommends steps to be taken by tech companies, government, civil society and researchers to counter the far-right online.