Google has given its backing to a new social network for former violent extremists and survivors of violent extremism.
The aim of the network, which is called Against Violent Extremism (AVE), is to enable members to “push back extremist narratives” and work together to prevent young people from becoming radicalised. Discussion topics cover all forms of violent extremism, from far right and far left to al-Qaeda-linked and inspired and gangs.
The idea for the site originated during the Summit Against Violent Extremism hosted in Dublin last year by Google Ideas, the company's think tank that “convenes unorthodox stakeholders... to explore the role that technology can play in tackling some of the toughest human challenges.”
“In some ways, it was a bit of an experiment to see if we could get so-called “formers” – those who had renounced their previous lives of violent extremism – and survivors of such violence to come together in one place,” said Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas in a blog post.
According to AVE, the summit demonstrated that former perpetrators and survivors of violent extremism can be powerful influencers in turning potential and existing extremists away from a violent path.
“There has traditionally been an over-reliance on governments to tackle these problems, so we wanted to see what diverse groups outside the public sector could offer,” said Cohen.
AVE was launched yesterday in New York by a consortium of partners including the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), Google Ideas, the Gen Next Foundation and rehabstudio.
The site offers tools for those wanting to act on the issue, as well as forums for dialogue and information about the projects that the network has spawned. Users can also upload short clips on AVE's YouTube channel to start discussions, and a separate marketplace function allows members to share professional skills.
Anyone with an interest in countering violent extremism, such as activists, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and other business people, can join. Cohen said that, in the coming months, the site would also put the spotlight on related issues such as drug smuggling, human trafficking and the underground arms trade.