Research indicates that violent extremists have been using digital platforms as breeding grounds for online recruitment. A report also suggests that hate speech proliferates on these digital platforms. Young people are the most active users of the digital space, making them more susceptible to online hate and vulnerable to recruitment by extremists. In the Philippines, about 21 million digital platform users are between 18-24 years old. The country is also reported to be one of the most prolific users of social media in the world.
Mindanao, the southern region of the Philippines, is described as home to the second-oldest conflict in the world. The conflict spans 450 years and is rooted in the quest for self-determination among the Islamised indigenous tribes. The self-determination movements’ ideologies and tactics have varied over time, however, parts of the movement have now aligned themselves with the Islamic State. In 2017, an ISIS-affiliated group attempted to take control of the country’s Islamic capital, Marawi City. Thousands of people, mostly Moro Muslims, were displaced and took refuge in Christian communities. As a result of the Marawi siege and the displacement of Moro Muslims, online hate speech from ordinary netizens – not necessarily extremists – targeting Muslim communities increased. Muslims were accused of being sympathetic to the ISIS-inspired militants.
This Insight draws on a case study of a group of university students from Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines who implemented a project that aimed to counter Islamophobic hate speech online. This project asked: how can digital platforms be utilised in challenging violence, extremism and hate speech, and what role do young people play?
Source: Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET)