UK government supports online counter-extremism

Work under the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme is due to be completed this month

The UK government is supporting initiatives aimed at building partnerships between the government and people involved in projects that tackle extremism online.

Under the Home Office programme Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT), the government wants to help groups to expand their reach and influence in work that results in fewer people holding attitudes, beliefs and feelings that oppose shared values, as well as increasing the sense of belonging, civic participation and resilience among communities.

Two support mechanisms are available under the initiative – in-kind support of up to £75,000 and grants awarded through a competitive bidding process. The goal is to have all the work under the initiative completed this month.

In-kind support includes actions such as social media training, technical assistance to help a group improve its website, or capacity building work to help a group protect more vulnerable individuals. BSBT also offers grants for counter-extremism projects.

Within the former type of support, the government was particularly interested in selecting applications from groups that tackle the ongoing trend of extremist activity shifting to the online space. Criteria for in-kind support includes effective practice in that area, with evidence that the methodology used, and social assets being created, will be successful.

The government also sought to investigate whether groups operating in counter-extremism online were able to work in partnership to promote positive alternative narratives to counter extremist content online and/or challenge extremist activity on the internet.

The ways in which in-kind support will aid the delivery of BSBT outcomes include creating social media campaigns that may involve creating webinars and bespoke digital campaigns using memes and GIFs that challenge extremist content, as well as websites advising how communities and individuals should respond to online extremism.

BSBT was launched in 2016 as the main work programme under the government’s 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy, with £8.8m in funding. According to the Home Office, a network of 240 civil society organisations has been created, and organisations supported by the first three calls for applications are understood to have engaged more than 220,000 individuals.

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