UNDP, Google join forces with Asian YouTubers to challenge extremism online

June 21, 2018

The ‘Creators For Change’ initiative will see participants working with UNDP experts to learn more about online extremism, hate speech, unconscious bias, fake news, cyber bullying, and intolerance.

Bangkok, June 23, 2018

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Asia and the Pacific joined forces with Google and YouTube in an innovative project that works with social media influencers on the popular video platform to combat online extremism, hate speech and cyber-bullying in the region.   

With support from the social-change agency LoveFrankie and the European Union, the initiative will bring together over 70 YouTube Content Creators to a series of tailored boot camps to be held in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand to debate some of the biggest social issues affecting their countries.

The ‘Creators For Change’ initiative will see participants working with UNDP experts to learn more about online extremism, hate speech, unconscious bias, fake news, cyber bullying, and intolerance.

“I’m excited by this innovative approach to tackling extremism through social media,” said Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“Combining UNDP’s expertise with Google’s reach, and the networks that influencers have on their peers, we hope to inspire the inclusion and diversity that is at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Marc Lefkowitz, Head of YouTube Creator and Artist Development for Asia Pacific said, "YouTube creators are continuously using our platform to share powerful messages, tackle difficult issues, and spread love. We're thrilled to be in this partnership with the UNDP that helps empower our creators, amplify their voices on YouTube and drive positive social impact in Asia-Pacific."

Through UNDP’s country office network across Asia, the Creators community will receive mentorship and support from non-government organisations (NGOs) working in the field of peace and counter-extremism. The content creators and experts, together with the NGOs will work on new ways to promote empathy and diversity at a time where online spaces have emerged as influential spaces for disseminating information.

Three Creators from each boot camp will then attend YouTube’s Creators for Change Academy Program. Each Creator will receive funding and mentorship from local NGOs, think tanks or researchers on a relevant topic of their choice, as well as production assistance to create informed, high-quality content.

The videos they produce will be presented at a regional summit in November 2018.

UNDP experts on extremism will play a key role in ensuring that unique country contexts and political realities across the region inform the narratives and tactics developed through the boot camps .

While it has brought about numerous positive changes worldwide, the internet has emerged as a major platform for spreading extreme ideologies. Extremist groups have proven adept at using social media to expand their following, increase their presence, and create knowledge for potential terrorists.

Merely responding to the influence of extremists online falls short of addressing real issues ordinary people face in their lives. Spaces such as YouTube can offer powerful narratives and information to not only counter extremist content, but to create new ideas and solutions to various challenges confronting societies today.

As the first partnership between UNDP and Google-subsidiary YouTube, this represents another marked effort to tackle the region’s biggest development issues by exploring emerging alternative solutions.

Over the past year, UNDP Asia Pacific has been implementing similar projects relating to the prevention of online extremism. #ExtremeLives is an ongoing series of live video broadcasts from countries across the region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, covering on-the-ground stories of people affected by violent extremism. #ExtremeLives has featured speakers with first-hand accounts of the killing fields of ISIS-occupied Raqqa, to insiders from a network that trained militants across Asia. The videos in this series has been viewed over 3.6 million times to date.

Building peaceful societies and preventing violent conflict is one of the five key challenges UNDP is committed resolving using innovation in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

For more information: 

Mailee Osten-Tan (Communications)

Odhran McMahon (Project Officer)