ABAT Online Salafism (2019)

The fringes of Islamist and Salafist extremism online and implications for P/CVE

Background

 

The social media monitoring and applied research project ABAT was an exploratory study on the usage of YouTube by those “on the fringes of extremism”, where actors and channels do not propagate violence, but frame a religiously contextualised extremist worldview as normal, aiming at influencing a young target group. The aim of the project ABAT was to identify actors, trends and types of channels that fit this description. Although there is strong evidence that these channels lead viewers to further engagement with content representing increasingly radical views, the nexus of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the YouTube terms of services makes it challenging to define and better understand this periphery of extremism. Considering this, the team at modus|zad used a mixed-method approach to identify over 200 such channels and analysed the network of subscribers of these channels, which proved to be an echo chamber on the platform. With a focus on the content and formal language used by these channels, the study identified the means – including narrative, stylistic, timing, and community management – by which certain channels and videos are most successful. Finally, an analysis of subscriptions, views, and shifts in the ranking of the top 25 such channels revealed the trends that motivate viewer engagement in this periphery of extremism.

 

The project ABAT produced comprehensive reports of the study’s findings in German and English, as well as a number of very well-received handouts and other support materials for practitioners of extremism prevention. Based on these findings a further project was developed to explore the connections between the English-language and German-language channels on the fringes of extremism on YouTube (Project KorRex) and a contract by the federal agency for civic education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung – BpB) requested further analysis of extremist narratives utilizing the ABAT database to support the successful development and implementation of targeted extremism prevention strategies. The report produced is used to equip relevant actors in extremism prevention with up-to-date insights that supports them in producing effective alternative narrative campaigns for YouTube reaching into the very periphery of extremism identified by the project ABAT.

 

 

Project Partners

 

The partner organisation of the project is Violence Prevention Network e. V.

About

Project lead:
Dr. Dennis Walkenhorst

 

E-Mail:
dennis.walkenhorst@modus-zad.de

 

Phone:
+49 30 40 75 51 20

 

Partners:

The project „ABAT Online-Salafismus“ was funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.