Countering Violent Extremist Narratives Online: Lessons From Offline Countering Violent Extremism

The literature examining use of online counter narratives to divert potential extremists from a path of violence highlights the importance of messenger credibility, interactive approaches, and the shaping of broader network contexts. However, counter‐narrative efforts have often failed to integrate these insights fully into their digital campaigns. After reviewing several prominent counter‐narrative initiatives in the United Kingdom and United States, this article highlights lessons from offline efforts to counter violent extremism (CVE) that can be used to inform counter‐narrative efforts online. First, CVE efforts benefit from using a networked approach where a range of individuals highly connected in their respective social networks are used to disseminate counter narratives. Second, interactive, interpersonal messaging techniques help to remove obstacles to participation in CVE efforts. Third, counter‐extremism messages and narratives are often better received when they relate to broader community concerns and priorities, rather than focusing exclusively on terrorism or violent extremism. Common challenges faced by both offline and online CVE are outlined, and the important synergies between these efforts examined.

Tags: counter narratives, counter‐extremism policy, countering violent extremism, CVE, Online Extremism, prevent strategy, Radicalisation