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Anna Lindh Foundation backs Facebook to challenge online extremist narratives

Anna Lindh Foundation backs Facebook at event in France

Paris, 14 March 2016 - The President of the Anna Lindh Foundation, Élisabeth Guigou, was guest of honour yesterday at the opening of a civil society training initiative organised in Paris by Facebook and aimed at supporting NGOs on the front-line of fighting online extremism.

The training event in Paris brought together civil society, NGOs and academic research institutions build capacity for strategic communications and share best practices for campaigns against online extremism and hate speech.

In her opening intervention, President Guigou underlined that "civil society are best placed to build a positive, alternative narrative for the Mediterranean". She added: "It is for civil society to develop a counter radicalisation strategy and it is the role of both the Anna Lindh Foundation and Facebook to support this challenge". Élisabeth Guigou highlighted the need for a mapping exercise to identify the signs of online radicalisation and have the necessary mechanisms in place to prevent it.

ALF President made a very specific remark on the importance of countering extremism. "Building a counter narrative is essential to challenge, fight and prevent radicalisation". In this regard, in the recent months the Anna Lindh Foundation has led Debate to Action, a strategic research and development project focused of strengthening resilience in the face of extremist narratives. The project, which is supported by the British Foreign Office (FCO) and is developed with a consortium of partners, has been a catalyst for new approaches to regional youth programming and building the capacity for emerging young leaders in the Arab region and Europe to collaborate in building alternative narratives.

President Guigou underlined the importance of the forthcoming "Anna Lindh Forum", scheduled to take place in Malta on 24th and 25th October 2016, as a unique occasion to unite civil society around a single platform for intercultural dialogue across the 42 Member States of the Union for the Mediterranean. In this perspective, President Guigou proposed "an innovative partnership with Facebook". She presented the Malta Forum as a unique occasion to initiate a regional conversation about how citizens envisage their common Mediterranean future," adding that "Leveraging the potential for dialogue existing in our societies will be at the heart of the Malta Forum, and the internet will be a central tool to bring the Forum debate to many thousands of more citizens across the Mediterranean”.

As part of the follow up, the Anna Lindh Foundation will now be discussing further with Facebook on the organization of the Malta Forum and Facebook’s potential participation.