What if I was Wrong? was developed and deployed by the Canadian Centre for the Prevention of Radicalisation Leading to Violence (CPRLV) with a view to “encourage resilience and critical thinking skills as protective factors against radicalising and extremist discourses leading to violence”. The campaign addresses five themes that reflect the “black-and-white” worldview often espoused by extremist groups:
- “I don’t fit in here”
- “One vision for all”
- “Us against them”
- “That’s none of my business”
- “They’re all the same”
These themes are addressed through digital posters and video-content, examples of which include former extremists sharing instances in which they first started questioning the ideological convictions imposed on them by the extremist movements they were part of.
Educational guides, workshops and other collateral, designed to amplify the campaign’s message and equip youth and youth-workers with the confidence to address difficult topics like radicalisation and extremism, supplement the poster and video-content. Although the campaign was developed and is delivered by the CPRLV, it has its own website where all relevant content can be found, shared and downloaded.
- Content: In addition to engaging content that furthers their message online, the campaign also includes actionable resources and offline workshops that empowers community-led solutions. A combination of different deliverables that engage with different audiences and encourage different levels of engagement can result in a holistic campaign that is more likely to have real impact.
- Platform: The campaign and its content was shared on CPRLV’s website and through its social media channels. By utilising existing platforms rather than creating new pages dedicated to the campaign allowed it to tap into the wider organisation’s existing network of followers. While this can make tailored, targeted communication more difficult, for wider-reaching awareness raising and mobilisation campaigns, it is a great way of increasing reach.
- Message: ‘What if I was wrong?’ is a clear and simple message that helps make a complex and difficult issue more approachable. It directs critical thinking to one key point to sew a seed of doubt and spark a conversation, rather than trying to persuade a person to abandon their belief system altogether. When approaching at-risk audiences, it is important to temper your message so as not to ask too much of them too quickly. Heavy-handed approaches can alienate a potential follower and even further reinforce their ideologies if they feel pressured to justify them to themselves or others.