February 3, 2015
As announced last month the British military have launched the 77th brigade, put in place to directly combat extremist propaganda and the digital plight of Jihadist recruitment and radicalisation on social media. The move follows similar action launched by the French and USA in moves to counter the ‘target audiences of families, friends and young people at risk of radicalisation’.
Messages on the French language Facebook page and website guide those at risk through a translation of Jihadist promises, debunking Jihadist myths, offering guidance on spotting the early signs of radical conversion including key signals like “a sudden change of dietary habits” or “the rejection of family members.”
The USA’s move has been made through their ‘Think Again Turn Away’ campaign on Twitter, Facebook and even Tumblr. A clear sign they are targeting younger and more vulnerable audiences often at risk of early misguidance. The campaigns content shows examples of cruelty, horror and disregard of historical relics or ancient heritage shown by militant political fighters including Boko Harem and ISIS.
However, its not all doom and gloom. Stories have emerged on the ‘Think again Turn Away’ Facebook page of home–grown good intention and the efforts of religious leaders and young people attempting to reduce the effect of extremist hate messages and the risk of early radicalisation. Often with constructive discussion on non–extremist counter measures to fairly educate and properly inform those at risk early on.
By confronting radical and extremist politics at the point of where the most vulnerable, younger generations are coming into contact, governments and military are giving themselves a clear chance at counteracting and contravening any influence extremist content may have. Especially in its most powerful form and in the most intimate of places where young people socialise i.e. popular social media channels.
Despite the ridicule from both the Left and Right of British media – (see The Guardian and Daily Mail comments sections) – it will be interesting to see if, how, and when any positive impact may be seen.