Extremists use social media to spread hateful narratives and propaganda - state actors, NGOs, and young activists are trying to fight this by telling counter-narratives. But how effective is this? | Photo: PRIF

Counter-narratives – curse or blessing?

Taking stock of the increased spread of extremist narratives – especially in social media – the search for appropriate counter-measures intensifies. Consequently, the formulation and dissemination of so-called counter-narratives is often discussed as one possible approach to weaken extremist influence. While there are good reasons in favor of counter-narratives, they also come with risks and uncertainties. This article outlines essential pros and cons for their use in social media and provides insights into the current state of research on the effects of counter-narratives. Finally, it makes a proposal for a balanced approach: Counter-narratives may not be the only cure for extremism, but can serve as an effective tool for prevention and de-radicalization.

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To belong to a social group is attractive, esp. to young people
To belong to a social group is attractive, esp. to young people | Photo: markusspiske | Free use

Salafist Groups’ Use of Social Media and its Implications for Prevention

Researchers largely agree that radicalisation processes mostly include both real-world and virtual conditions. However, the interaction of both spheres has so far been understudied. Still, too little is known about how the two environments are mutually dependent and, accordingly, even less about how prevention and deradicalisation approaches can cover both spheres. In the previous article, Manjana Sold highlighted that while studying social media profiles, linkages to the real world are observable. This blog argues that this also occurs the other way around: Based on results from in-depth case studies, the article shows how radical Salafist groups in Germany use the benefits of social media to attract new members and facilitate the maintenance of the group. From these findings, possible starting points for prevention and deradicalisation work will be derived, which, if possible, cover both spheres of life.

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Das salafistisch-dschihadistisches Online-Magazin „Kybernetiq“
Das salafistisch-dschihadistische Online-Magazin „Kybernetiq“ | Quelle: eigene Darstellung

Online- oder Offline-Radikalisierung – oder doch ein Mix?

Immer häufiger ist bei ExtremistInnen die Rede von einer „Online-Radikalisierung“: Das Internet wird immer wieder als wichtiger Faktor in Radikalisierungsprozessen genannt. Dennoch ist über die Interaktion zwischen virtueller und realer Welt und die Wirkung von Online-Kommunikation in Radikalisierungsprozessen wenig bekannt. Dieser Beitrag beleuchtet kurz wesentliche Erkenntnisse hierzu und stellt auf Basis erster Erkenntnisse aus unserer Forschung drei Thesen zum Stellenwert von Online- und Offline-Faktoren in Radikalisierungsprozessen auf.

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