Learn more about how you can make a difference to combat hate speech and extremism.

What is extremism?

Fake news

This type of information, found in traditional news, social media or online, has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate.


A deliberate act of making random unsolicited, and controversial comments about an person or party to evoke an emotional response.

Hate speech

Speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Verbal abuse

When a person forcefully criticizes, insults, or denounces someone else.

At YouthCAN we've found that it is important to understand the reasons why people hate and what draws them to extremism in order to successfully activate those voices that can best counter these problems; your voice.

But how do you get people to listen? How do you know where to start? Backed by ISD, in collaboration with an active Community of analysts, activists and creatives we provide a cutting-edge view on what it means to be involved in youth activism and counterspeech campaigning to counter hate and extremism.

What is counter speech?

Content that is created to counter hate, extremism and misinformation. Counterspeech campaigns can indirectly undermine hateful content by providing positive alternatives to hate, known as alternative narratives, or use counter narratives to directly discredit, deconstruct and delegitimize extremist propaganda.  These campaigns can be used to raise awareness, activate target audiences or influence attitudes and behaviours. However, to be successful they they must be informed, engaging, relevant, targeted and authentic.

What is extremism? 

The holding of extreme political or religious views; fanaticism.

What is misinformation?

False or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive.

Youth and hate speech

Young people have an integral role to play in countering hate and extremism. They understand the issues that affect them better than governments, are passionate to improve the world, and innovative in their responses to hate. However, despite being the primary victims of extremist violence, young people are often left out of efforts to resolve these issues. With your help this is something we hope to change. At YouthCAN we believe that youth are the missing key to pushing back against hate and and extremism and the UN agrees.

"Recognizing that youth should actively be engaged in shaping lasting peace and contributing to justice and reconciliation, and that a large youth population presents a unique demographic dividend that can contribute to lasting peace and economic prosperity…”


Hate speech online

Social media has enabled billions of people across the world to communicate instantaneously for limited cost, however its benefits have also helped spread hateful narratives from actors operating across the ideological spectrum. Hate speech has proliferated across platforms like Facebook and Twitter and become an increasingly common occurrence in the lives of Internet users.  Extremist groups like Islamic State have effectively used social media to spread their propaganda and recruit supporters from around the world.

Utilising games, professional advertising and chat rooms, extremist groups tailor their messages to specific audiences, inciting men and women, local citizens and foreign fighters to support them. In contrast, the far-right has focused more on recruitment and localised support using social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others to increase their reach and aid in organising their offline activities. The question is what can be done?

Take down or turn around?

How many of you have actually reported a piece of hateful or extreme content online? For most of us it's two, maybe three times... We all have the opportunity to try and make changes here, but it's not just through reporting, it's also through trying to turn the conversation around.  Recent research shows that top-down attempts to combat hateful and extremist propaganda have enjoyed limited success.

Governments and social media companies have been focused on removing content with passive ‘take down’ policies. However, with 5 billion posts added to Facebook each day, 100 hours of video to YouTube every minute and 6,000 tweets per second on Twitter, ‘take down’ approaches are only part of the solution.  We need to push back against these hateful narratives and create our own positive campaigns that can oppose them!

This has to be done by creating and working with credible messengers – such as former extremists, survivors of extremist violence, civil society organisations and the young people who are most often targeted by this content online. For a long time these groups often lacked the necessary funds, skills and support to effectively be heard, but that is changing. At YouthCAN we work with youth activists to give them them the tools and support they need to create compelling content and spread positive messages capable of countering extremism.


In the ever changing world of counterspeech campaigning, keeping as up to date on current thinking and trends is key. Here we bring together a range of resources from YouthCAN and ISD to help your campaigns secure the greatest impact possible.

View all resources
YouthCAN Innovation Labs - A model for preventing and countering violent extremism
The impact of counter-narratives
The counter-narrative monitoring & evaluation handbook

Want to join our community?

Find out how to get involved and start creating your own counter-narratives