Preventing Violent Extremism: NPSIA Student’s Peer-to-Peer Social Media Campaign Goes Viral

By Alex Wilner, Assistant Professor at NPSIA

Combatting violent extremism can involve organizing Peer-to-Peer (P2P) preventing violent extremism (PVE) programs and social media campaigns. While hundreds of PVE campaigns have been launched around the world in recent months and years, very few of these campaigns have actually been reviewed, analyzed, or assessed in any systematic way. Metrics of success and failure have yet to be fully developed, and very little is publically known as to what might differentiate a great and successful P2P campaign from a mediocre one.

NPSIA students are changing that.

In a recently published article in the Journal of Deradicalization (Number 12, Fall 2017) NPSIA students provide a first-hand account of the promises and pitfalls of running a publically funded, university-based, online, peer-to-peer PVE campaign.


The article, “The 60 Days of PVE Campaign: Lessons on Organizing an Online, Peer-to-Peer, Counter-radicalization Program,” is based on the experience of a group of ten NPSIA students who between January and April 2017, developed and orchestrated an original, English-language PVE campaign as part of the 2017 Facebook Global Digital Challenge. The article provides a detailed account of the group’s approach to PVE and an assessment of its campaign.

The group’s PVE campaign was designed with both short- and long-term initiatives in mind. The first part of the initiative – a social media blitz titled 60 days of PVE ( – was developed to run for three months. The data gathered therein, along with the material created during the campaign itself, was simultaneously posted and hosted on another website – – designed with the intention of establishing a longer-term repository and platform that might assist Carleton University students and groups looking to expand upon the PVE campaign in the future.


The article highlights the entirety of the group’s campaign, from theory and conceptualization to branding, media strategy, and evaluation, and describes the campaign’s core objectives and implementation. The article also analyzes the campaign’s digital footprint and reach using data gleamed from social media.


Finally, the article discusses the challenges and difficulties the group faced in running their campaign, lessons that are pertinent for others contemplating a similar endeavour.


Free access to the article is available here:




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