Home Office role in 'Woke' Muslim social network revealed

Image caption,
This is Woke debates general news as well as specifically Muslim issues

The Home Office is running a tailor-made social news network to help combat online radicalisation.

Called This is Woke, the network has pages on Facebook and Instagram and features discussions about news as well as many aspects of the Muslim faith.

The Woke network has about 75,000 followers but some of its content has been shared widely on Facebook.

The network's activity is curated by a UK media firm for the Home Office as part of its anti-terror strategy.

National security

On its pages, Woke describes itself as a "diverse social news platform" that hosts "critical discussions around Muslim identity, tradition and reform".

The name of the network comes from a popular expression referring to people who are conscious of social injustice, especially that which arises from racism.

As well as discussions about general news topics such as climate change, fake news and mental health, it also hosts videos specifically dealing with Muslim culture and identity.

Videos on the site talk about reasons for wearing the hijab as well as gender relations and extremism.

One video, which has been shared on Facebook more than 1.7 million times, is called "It's time to hold extremism to account for terrorism, not Islam".

It features a group of young Muslims debating the issue with captions asking if Muslims should be apologetic over Islamist terror attacks.

The existence of the Woke network and who had created it was exposed by the Middle East Eye news organisation.

Image caption,
The Woke pages feature quotes from Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and others

The network is overseen by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism which said it could not share more details about it with Middle East Eye because this would "prejudice the national security of the UK".

MEE talked to some people featured in videos on the Woke pages who said they did not know it was part of the Home Office's Prevent programme that seeks to counter radicalisation.

The Home Office confirmed to BBC News its involvement with This is Woke and said: "We are committed to using all of the tools available to counter the threat from terrorism in the UK."

It added: "The Home Office works in partnership with a range of organisations from across civil society, industry, private and public sectors to reduce vulnerabilities to organised criminal, extremist and terrorist threats in the UK."

Media company Zinc Network, which set up and runs This is Woke, told the Times that it was "enormously proud" of the work it did to "promote positive social change and tackle some of the most complex issues in the world".

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