Students from Utrecht University are headed to Washington D.C. to present the strategy and results of their social media campaign #DareToBeGrey. Facebook and the US Department of State teamed up to approach 45 universities around the world to develop a social media strategy against extremism and radicalization. The Utrecht students’ campaign is among the best six entries, earning them an invitation to travel to Washington.
#DareToBeGrey is the social media project developed by the Utrecht students for the international contest 'Peer 2 Peer: Challenging Extremism' issued by Facebook and the US Department of State.
Giving a voice to nuanced views
With their project the students decided to literally give a voice to views and opinions that normally do not make the news because they are too nuanced and therefore not seen as ‘real news’. Often, only extreme views are featured, even if for no other reason than to provoke fierce responses. The Utrecht University students feel this mechanism unwillingly contributes to polarisation, radicalisation and eventually even extremism. The students’ first achievement: their campaign was immediately picked up in mainstream media, with presenter Eric Corton (De Nieuws BV) kicking off the campaign live on national radio channel Radio 1.
The #DareToBeGrey approach received international attention as well. A delegation of the students gave a presentation during the Global Summit of the international Strong Cities Network (SCN) in Antalya, Turkey. This network of major cities was established in September 2015 by the United Nations with the goal to fight radical extremism in all its manifestations. Within SCN, local policymakers from all over the wold share their knowledge and expertise on how to tackle extremism and radicalisation. The Utrecht students participated in the Summit at the invitation of the organisers of the Peer 2 Peer competition and the London based Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
Presentation in Washington
Upon their return to the Netherlands, the students learned that they were set to travel to Washington D.C. on 24 June to present their ideas to the two organisations which issued the contest: Facebook and the US State Department. Six universities are still in the running to win the contest 'Peer 2 Peer: Challenging Extremism'.