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RAN Internet and Social Media (@)

RAN Internet and Social Media (RAN @) explores and researches the role of Internet and social media in relation to radicalisation and to counter-messaging.


Terrorists and extremists are using the Internet to organise themselves, and for operational planning to recruit, train, coordinate and communicate.

Key challenge

RAN @ focuses on areas where the largest gains can be made. The group therefore will focus on ‘positive’ rather than ‘negative’ initiatives. It will seek to develop frontline partnerships around the collation, creation, and dissemination of counter- and alternative-narratives through the Internet and social media.


RAN @ will:

  • Involve the full range of necessary practitioners and frontline workers, including public, private and voluntary/community sectors.
  • Seek to join forces with other RAN working groups.
  • Involve individuals and organisations from outside the EU, given the borderless nature of the Internet.


Tasks of RAN @:

  • Explore ways for frontline practitioners from the public, private and voluntary/community sectors to partner to tackle radicalisation on the Internet and social media
  • Improve relationships between these three frontline practitioner groups
  • A series of products for first line workers

Working Group updates

  • RAN @ delivered a successful training on online counter-narratives
    In line with one of the main aims of the RAN @ working group to empower practitioners to deliver effective counter-narratives, on 2 March 2015 the working group delivered a training in London (UK) to 20 practitioners and content creators from across Europe. The participants were practitioners that are already active (online and/or offline) to spread an alternative message, who have testimonies of their own or other’s experiences as powerful counter-narratives and who want to take their counter-narrative work to a next level using online tools. The programme consisted of knowledge and insights from the RAN @ activities as well as practical, hands-on training from specialists at Google and YouTube on the delivery of counter-narratives on these platforms.
  • Successful online counter-narrative pilot campaign.
    On 1 May, RAN@ had meeting in London on the findings of a counter narrative pilot campaign. The purpose of the meeting was to review the 6-week pilot campaign that consisted of 6 video’s. The review was based on quantitative results (in terms of views, likes, etc.) and qualitative results (user-engagement: descriptions, comments etc.), but also focused on some general lessons learned based on this first campaign. In the pilot period, the campaign received over 50.000 views and, compared to commercial campaigning, also scored high on user-engagement. A few of the lessons drawn from this pilot campaign were:
    • Using different content styles (lengths, messages, animations) in a frequent manner helps build user-engagement;
    • Connections to current, ‘hot’ news items attracts more traffic to the channel;
    • To reach a targeted audience (e.g. young people at risk of radicalisation) it is important to have a clear idea of the mind-set of users and target audience;
    • To further enhance the impact of the campaign, a social strategy needs to be developed that includes an information and engagement loop through different social platforms.

Older updates

  • On 29 January 2014 in The Hague RAN @ had a small-scale expert meeting to discuss the dissemination of a counter narrative video. RAN @ is supporting a pilot online video campaign, created by a RAN practitioner, to promote critical thinking about issues at the heart of extremist narratives. RAN @ will examine, and record, the details of the production, dissemination and measurement of the online videos, with the goal to document and share broadly with the practitioner network.
  • On 25 March 2013, RAN @ had a meeting in London. The distribution of radical narratives and moderate counter narratives was discussed. Lessons were learned on how to mobilise the moderate silent majority. Many-to-one counter narrative strategies were reviewed by discussing several case studies.
  • RAN @ had its first meeting on 14 November 2012 in London with some 20 attendees. The difference was explored between:
    1. counter-narratives, that challenge extremist narratives,
    2. alternative narratives, that put forward a positive story about social values,
    3. government strategic communications.
    All agreed that counter-narratives are not about winning the argument, but about planting seeds of doubt. It was noted that successful online counter-narratives are generally linked to offline activities. And that legitimate voices are context specific. For example, it might be only a former extremist that can reach to a group of youth at risk of radicalisation. Metrics of online counter-narratives need to be more than numbers alone, to know whether they refer to the intended target audience, or whether they change offline behaviour.
  • RAN @ policy recommendations   [242 KB] for the High Level Conference on January 29th 2013


Working Group leaders:

  • Rachel Briggs (United Kingdom)
  • Yasmin Dolatabadi (United States)


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