Countering Extremists on Social Media: Challenges for Strategic Communication and Content Moderation

Extremist exploitation of social media platforms is an important regulatory question for civil society, government, and the private sector. Extremists exploit social media for a range of reasons—from spreading hateful narratives and propaganda to financing, recruitment, and sharing operational information. Policy responses to this question fit under two headings, strategic communication and content moderation. At the center of both of these policy responses is a calculation about how best to limit audience exposure to extremist narratives and maintain the marginality of extremist views, while being conscious of rights to free expression and the appropriateness of restrictions on speech. This special issue on “Countering Extremists on Social Media: Challenges for Strategic Communication and Content Moderation” focuses on one form of strategic communication, countering violent extremism. In this editorial we discuss the background and effectiveness of this approach, and introduce five articles which develop multiple strands of research into responses and solutions to extremist exploitation of social media. We conclude by suggesting an agenda for future research on how multistakeholder initiatives to challenge extremist exploitation of social media are conceived, designed, and implemented, and the challenges these initiatives need to surmount.

Tags: content moderation, counter messaging, countering violent extremism, CVE, extremism regulation, free speech, online platforms, Social Media