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Julia Ebner to Lead Virtual Keynote at Copenhagen Panel

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WHAT IS SMIDGE?

SMIDGE is a project dedicated to exploring the impact of extremist narratives on the middle-aged population. As part of an EU-funded Horizon research project, we are investigating the attraction of extremist content on social media and how it influences this group. Our goal is to provide policy-makers with valuable insights and recommendations through our reports, policy briefs and counter-narrative videos. Stay up-to-date with our latest findings, news and upcoming events such as webinars, roundtables and conferences. 

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ONLINE EXTREMISM

Misinformation, conspiracy theories and extremism online are growing concerns for governments and society at large. The way social media algorithms work often incentivizes the spread of such ideas, as they generate more engagement and revenue. This phenomenon can have a direct impact on perceptions of democratic institutions, trust in science and calls for direct action to overthrow or disrupt democratically elected governments. Middle-aged individuals (45-65) are particularly susceptible to extremist narratives, and their involvement in such content could have significant consequences for political discourse, democratic processes and institutions.

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WHY THE MIDDLE-AGED?

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In today's digital age, extremist narratives thrive online, attracting individuals of all ages who propagate misinformation and conspiracy theories. Middle-aged adults, who are not as digitally savvy as younger generations, rely on traditional sources like TV and newspapers but also engage with online media. They may lack the necessary skills to distinguish truth from falsehood, making them susceptible to extremist content. This age group, including individuals aged 45-65, exhibits higher levels of cynicism and distrust and is prone to embracing cults and conspiracy theories. However, they are often overlooked in educational initiatives, posing unique challenges for reaching and understanding their motivations. The SMIDGE project aims to explore the role of middle-aged individuals in spreading misinformation and extremism online, shedding light on this under-researched group and paving the way for future studies.

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