The Impact of Counter-Narratives

TANYA SILVERMAN, CHRISTOPHER J. STEWART, ZAHED AMANULLAH AND JONATHAN BIRDWELL, AUGUST 2016

The concept of creating counter-narrative in order to push back against extremist recruitment and propaganda has become well established in recent years. In practice, however, it has proven difficult to curate this content in a systematic way, target it toward at risk audiences, and – most importantly – measure constructive impact on their behaviour.

ISD’s Impact of Counter Narratives report presents the development, deployment, and evaluation of three counter- narrative campaigns orchestrated by the Against Violent Extremism network and Jigsaw (an incubator within Alphabet that uses technology to address geopolitical issues) with additional in-kind and financial support from Facebook and Twitter. The report provides fresh evidence that social media campaigns can help spark de-radicalisation.

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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.