Ex-Neo-Nazis, Ex-Terrorists Get Social Network

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I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that most people aren't using their social network to rid the world of violent extremists. Sure, updating your Facebook profile with gloating posts about last night's epic rager and trolling for photos of your exes may seem like revolutionary acts, but let's be real, you're not exactly helping to stop the spread of Neo-Nazism.

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You know who is? The folks at Against Violent Extremism (AVE), an online social network where former violent extremists and victims can share their experiences. Its aim is to convince others to abandon or avoid falling prey to extremist ideology.

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AVE is backed by a group of partners including Google Ideas, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), the Gen Next Foundation and Rehabstudio.

The idea arose from discussions at the 2011 Summit Against Violent Extremism, a conference hosted by Google Ideas in Dublin. The event demonstrated how perpetrators and victims of violent extremism can be very influential in deterring others from violence.

The organization believes the network can provide a new social scaffolding that those affected will be able to use to rebuild their life.

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"Often the key factor in turning an extremist away from violence is not so much challenging their opinions as meeting them with a nonjudgmental attitude and giving them a practical route to new friends, a new job and a new life. This is true whether you a talking to a former skinhead extremist or a former Islamic radical," Robert Orell told Wired. Orell heads Exit Sweden, an organization that helps rehabilitate former Neo-Nazis.

AVE will be operated by ISD, a London-based think tank with a history of working to counter extremism. ISD director, Sasha Havicek said AVE "won’t be another talking shop — it will result in politcal outcomes."

Amen to that.

via Wired