Counter-speech is a common, crowd-sourced response to extremism or hateful content. Extreme posts are often met with disagreement, derision, and counter-campaigns. Compared with simply deleting controversial content, combating extremism in this way has some advantages: it is faster, more flexible and responsive, capable of dealing with extremism from anywhere and in any language and retains the principle of free and open public spaces for debate.
Because of its belief in the power of counter-speech and the growing interest in a more rigorous and evidence-led approach to understand it better, Facebook commissioned Demos to undertake a series of research reports, examining the extent to which different types of counter-speech are produced and shared on Facebook.
In October 2015 Demos published a report, supported by Facebook, which examined the activity of counter-speech and populist right-wing groups on Facebook and made recommendations for how counter-speech groups could more effectively diffuse their messages.
This second report sets out the summary findings of phase II of this project, examining how speech which challenges extreme Islamist narratives in the UK and France is produced and shared. Future reports in this series will cover counter-speech in other countries, including India and Indonesia.
A summary of this report is available here.
The full report is available to read here.