Threats from conspiracy myths and how we can counter them

Background of the ALT-Real project

Fake news and conspiracy myths are part of the core of extremist communication strategies, especially in times of constantly accessible online propaganda. Extremist propaganda that draws on such strategies plays a central role in the radicalization processes of adolescents and young adults.

The extremist offerings are disseminated primarily via social media, such as currently via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. Because the use of the various platforms is subject to constant and increasingly rapid change, parents, but above all people who are in professional educational contact with children, adolescents and young adults, often feel overwhelmed.

Pedagogical staff often does not have the resources to deal intensively with the current trends, topics and forms of online communication and the dangers posed by extremist content. What adolescents and young people find out about and where, and which channels they use for this purpose, often remains difficult for these groups to identify.

Knowledge of extremist ideologies and strategies and, in conjunction with this, the recognition of problematic media usage behavior on the part of young people are the first priority in any intervention in radicalization processes (sensitization). This is followed by the pedagogical ability to approach young people at risk adequately (confidence to act).

This poses great challenges for educators: Extremist communication on the Internet is subject to constant change. Cultural codes usually originate from youth and Internet cultures that are unknown to older people and therefore, in case of doubt, do not stand out as problematic. In this context, it is often recurring (conspiracy mythical) narratives that play an important role in the radicalization of young people, but which remain hidden behind euphemistic terms, or phenomena of online communication (e.g. memes).

Therefore, dealing with such content on a daily basis requires a basic knowledge of these cultures and also the usage behavior of young people.

Focus and benefits of ALT-Real

The project “ALT-Real” offers educational professionals, especially teachers, information and action orientation in digital form on the topic of conspiracy narratives on the part of extremist actors (both from political and religiously based extremism). Current trends as well as possibilities of pedagogical handling in the social space school are presented

    in the podcast “modus|extrem”, which is produced by the organization itself

    an online handout and

    an interactive exchange format including advice on the Internet.

In this way, knowledge about conspiracy ideological content, propagandistic exploitation and extremist recruitment strategies is conveyed to people who are in direct contact with young people suspected of being at risk of radicalization, and the possibility of exchange is created for the target group in order to be able to react professionally in the future.

The Alt-Real project is funded by the state program Hessen aktiv für Demokartie und gegen Extremismus.

You need advice?

Our project staff will be happy to assist you! You can reach them at the following email address: