Undergraduate marketing students at the University of New Mexico (UNM) announced recently the launch of a global education and advocacy campaign to mobilize and encourage networks of youth to counter the social media presence and effectiveness of violent extremists' online messaging.
UNM’s “KNOW Extremism Campaign” is part of the Peer to Peer (P2P): Challenging Extremism initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and facilitated by EdVenture Partners with other interagency governmental support.
The Internet—and specifically social media—has emerged as one of the primary battlefields on which the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) engages with the public in order to propagate extremist narratives, build public support for extremist actions, and recruit or inspire willing participants to either travel abroad to fight or commit violent acts at home.
The “KNOW Extremism Campaign” uses a comprehensive digital media approach to counter this activity including a website, online ads, social media, and a digital advocacy hub. These tools and resources were designed to educate Millennials about violent extremism and to mobilize them to speak out against it.
The centerpiece of the campaign is “In the Know,” a digital hub that allows participants to engage in grassroots efforts to advocate against violent extremism by sharing curated content via their own social media channels. The hub is powered by SwellStarter, an easy-to-use software platform developed by McKee Wallwork + Co. that helps brands and organizations share relevant, customized, curated content via the social communities of their natural allies.
UNM students say a full understanding of violent extremism is paramount. What it is, how it works, and who participates are all key aspects of extremism that must be understood before extremist ideology and narratives can be opposed on a global scale. The “KNOW Extremism Campaign” seeks to empower the very people ISIL and other violent extremist groups are trying to recruit—young people—with information to answer these questions.
The P2P: Challenging Extremism program is leading towards an international competition on Jan. 14, 2016. The top three participating schools will be invited to Washington, D.C. to present their research, plan, and results to senior government officials and industry leaders at the U.S. Department of State to determine the P2P: Challenging Extremism winner. The top team will receive a scholarship prize of $5,000, followed by $3,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third.
To learn more and join the campaign, visit knowcampaign.org. Through education about violent extremism, social media users can begin to speak out about the issue using the hashtag #ChallengeExtremism. Follow the UNM student campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.