On Social Media’s Fringes, Growing Extremism Targets Women

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Two of modern society’s most disruptive forces — anger among many men over social changes they see as a threat, and the rise of social media upending how ideas spread and communities form — are colliding. The result is that movements like the incels are becoming at once more accessible and more extreme.

Although attacks like the one in Toronto that killed 10 people are rare, the hate being spread online is leading increasingly to threats and calls for violence. More often than not, the threats target women.

How the battle against IS is being fought online

woman holding #notinmyname placard

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The battle against Islamic State (IS) militants has been fought in part on social networks, and has raised the question – how best to counter the message being spread by jihadists?

Analysis by BBC News shows that over the course of Friday evening the hashtag [#notinmyname] reached an audience equivalent to those sitting down to watch the main news bulletins. The hashtag was the brainchild of the Active Change Foundation, an organisation dedicated to fighting extremism.  Hanif Qadir of ACF said he and the young people at the organisation came up with the campaign because the broad mass of ordinary Muslim voices couldn’t be heard. They wanted to take back online space occupied by IS.

“It’s a simple message,” he says. “It’s Muslims [and] non-Muslims saying no way, not in the name of Islam, and not in the name of any faith or humanity, It’s a very very powerful message and very simple.”

“This is the most socially-mediated conflict in history,” he says. “You literally have thousands of foreign fighters from all over the world using social media in order to convey the message about the jihad that they are fighting.

“If I am a 20-year-old kid in Bradford who is thinking about going to Syria, I can go online and talk to another 20-year-old from Birmingham, London or Manchester and find out about their experiences and have a two-way conversation with a peer who has undergone the exact same thought processes that I have gone through and has faced all the challenges that I am about to embark upon.”