Extremist recruitment

While exposure to extremist content does not necessarily lead to an individual’s participation in a violent act or a movement, the use of social media for the purposes of promoting violent groups that foster hate and division, particularly among young people, has been a topic of concern among Jordanians (Speckhard and Izadi 2018).

Despite the reports in international media of the defeat of many extremist groups such as ISIS in some of the most critical locations, extremists continue to recruit young people throughout the region. It has led government agencies, such as the King Abdullah Fund for Development (KAFD) to conduct awareness sessions and social media courses which enable (“KAFD launches third antiextremism session” 2019) youth to spread a counter-ideology and views among peers. Through these trainings, youths become equipped with an increased awareness of how social media can make them, and others, vulnerable to such threats. No publicly available studies provide estimates of the number of people recruited by terrorist groups through social media in particular (Braizat ct al. 2017). It is however expected that most of the stories and trials of citizens involved in such cases are kept confidential and not published online.

“Fatabayyanu” addresses disinformation

The first disinformation-combatting initiative was released in Jordan in 2015 in an attempt, unique in the Arab world, to respond to the phenomenon. It is ongoing to date and is titled (Fatabayyanu, which means to seek clarity). Organised by a group of students, it is mainly focused on correcting information on discoveries, events and current affairs which go viral in the form of social media posts among Arab audiences. Its stated purpose is to steer the Arab public towards informing content that is based on accurate, verified information. The Facebook page of Fatabayyanu has over 800,000 subscribers, managed by volunteers, and is the main communications portal for the initiative.

On the offieial website, Fatabayyanu states that the volunteer “fact-checkers” undergo examination, whereby their ability to conduct research and verify the information is tested, before being approved as members of the initiative (Fata- bayyano.net 2020). It also indicated that if checking the correctness of a post is not possible through online and open-source resources which they mostly rely on, the initiative attempts to contact individuals or institutions who could be mentioned in the texts of the posts concerned. Finally, the fact-checked content goes through editing and proofreading, also done by specialised volunteers, before being published online.

In 2018, the Jordanian government released an initiative titled (it

is your right to know), which consists of an online fact-checking platform with the purpose of combating the spread of misinformation online regarding topics of concern for the Jordanian public. It was supported by a social media campaign which promoted it.

The platform allows users to verify the news they have come across through sending the information to the relevant government department or institution to receive a check. This remains the only attempt of its kind, but it has also been criticised for promoting a singular view on “facts”.

 
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