Violent extremism is the beliefs and actions of people who support or use violence to achieve ideological, religious, or political goals. Examples of violent extremism include terrorism and politically motivated or communal violence, such as tribal clashes and civil wars, among others. Combatting violent extremism remains a key goal for many governments, international development organizations, and local NGOs, primarily due to the threat this type of violence poses to lives and livelihoods. Part of the measures involved includes gathering insights on issues that could foster extremism among communities and deploying the necessary interventions, such as educating communities and aligning security actions.

The role of the mobile phone in combatting violent extremism

With the rise and rise of mobile phone penetration globally, mobile has become one of the most effective channels to deliver and collect information, both of which are integral to combatting violent extremism. This can take course in a variety of strategies and approaches, including:

  • Developing and distributing counter-narrative content by creating and distributing content that challenges the narratives and ideologies of extremist groups and provides alternative perspectives. These materials can be distributed through social media, messaging apps, and other mobile platforms.
  • Providing early warning and reporting systems that allow individuals to report potential threats and extremist activity in real time.
  • Offering de-radicalization and rehabilitation programs to individuals who have been radicalized or are at risk of radicalization. This can involve creating mobile apps or online resources that provide information, counseling, and other support to individuals who need help disengaging from extremist groups.
  • Building community resilience and promoting social cohesion through mobile-based platforms that connect people and promote dialogue and understanding.
  • Providing education and awareness-raising about the dangers of violent extremism and how to counter it. This can involve creating mobile apps or online resources that provide information and resources to help people understand the issues and take action to combat violent extremism.
  • Intelligence gathering on extremist groups, their leaders, and their activities.
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Overall, mobile technology can be a powerful tool in the fight against violent extremism, but it is important to use it responsibly and ethically. It is also essential to work closely with communities and other stakeholders to ensure that any efforts to combat violent extremism using mobile technology are effective and sustainable.

Using surveys to combat violent extremism

Surveys are one of the most effective ways to gather insights from people on the ground regarding pretty much anything. In combatting violent extremism can be integral to gathering information and insights about the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals and communities that may be at risk of radicalization or involvement in violent extremist groups.

Surveys can be used to:

  • Identify risk factors for radicalization such as poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and exposure to extremist ideologies.
  • Assess the effectiveness of counter-radicalization programs and to identify areas for improvement.
  • Develop targeted interventions by gathering information about the specific needs and concerns of individuals and communities at risk of radicalization. This information can be used to develop targeted interventions that address the specific issues and challenges facing these groups.
  • Measure the impact of interventions designed to combat violent extremism. This can involve surveying individuals and communities before and after an intervention to assess changes in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • Monitor and track change in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors over time. This can involve surveying the same individuals or communities regularly to assess changes in their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors over time.
Limitations of using surveys to combat violent extremism

While surveys can be a valuable tool in the fight against violent extremism, they do have certain limitations, including:

  • Self-selection bias: Surveys rely on individuals to willingly participate, and those who do not participate may have different attitudes or beliefs than those who do. This can lead to self-selection bias, where the results of the survey may not be representative of the population as a whole.
  • Social desirability bias: Surveys often rely on self-reported data, and respondents may be inclined to give socially acceptable answers rather than their actual beliefs or behaviors. This can lead to social desirability bias, where the survey results may not accurately reflect the true attitudes or behaviors of the population.
  • Privacy and security concerns: Surveys can put participants at risk if the data is not kept confidential or if the survey is perceived as a way for the government or other groups to gather intelligence on individuals and communities.
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Given the sensitivity of violent extremism, it is important to ensure that the survey design is appropriate and that the data is collected in a way that respects the privacy and confidentiality of the participants. It is also essential to analyze the data in a rigorous and unbiased manner. Surveys should be conducted in partnership with local communities to ensure that the survey is culturally and contextually appropriate and that the results are used in a way that benefits the community.

Working with GeoPoll to combat violent extremism using mobile

GeoPoll regularly works with development organizations, governments and other stakeholders to reach all types of populations, even in areas that are hard to reach, for example, due to violence and unrest. Using our unique mobile-based methods and global coverage, we conduct remote surveys and help send one-way messages to people in selected geographies and demographics. To learn more about our work in combatting violent extremism and other solutions, do not hesitate to contact us.