Press Release

2.02.2017 Stacey P2P

University of Notre Dame (Beirut, Lebanon) receives first place certificate from Facebook’s Monika Bickert (center). Also pictured is the team’s faculty member, Naoum Abi Adam (far left) and Carla Jazzar (second from left), Head of the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington. PHOTO: EdVenture Partners

For Immediate Release

Winner announced for Peer to Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge

ARLINGTON, Va. – Today Facebook, along with EdVenture Partners, hosted the fall 2016 finals of the Peer to Peer (P2P): Facebook Global Digital Challenge at 1776 global incubator company’s event space in Arlington, Virginia. The Challenge is a global university competition started in 2015 in which students create social and digital media campaigns to counter online hate and extremism. Run by EdVenture Partners, the project engaged students from 23 universities from around the world when it was launched. In the spring of 2016, students from 54 universities participated, and this past fall there were more than 100 universities who were involved.

The program today featured presentations by three finalist teams from universities in Belgium, Italy and Lebanon. The event also featured remarks from Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy and Bruce Wharton, Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Once the students had presented their projects in front of a panel of judges, the judges deliberated and named Notre Dame University (Beirut, Lebanon) as the winner for the fall 2016 challenge.

Through their unique digital campaign, ACT (Aspiration, Communication, Transformation), students at Notre Dame University in Lebanon worked to challenge extremism while promoting diversity in-country. Using ISIS’s own media strategy against them, ACT created various types of videos to inspire the Lebanese population to act against extremism. In fact, they successfully enlisted 50 well-recognized people in their community to record promotional videos and share them. In addition to creating a strong positive counternarrative online, the team partnered with local NGOs to have workshops and bring awareness to their campaign.

Second place was awarded to KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium) and their You-Nite campaign, and third place went to University of Cagliari (Cagliari, Italy), whose campaign was titled R.E.A.C.T..

Left, KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium), second place winner, is pictured with their professor Thomas Frissen (far left) and Thomas Lambert, Deputy Ambassador at the Belgian Embassy to the United States (fourth from left). Right, Cagliari University (Cagliari, Italy) took third place. Both teams were awarded certificates from Monika Bickert, head of product policy for Facebook. PHOTOS: EdVenture Partners

The winning teams were awarded $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000 prizes for first through third places, respectively. After Peer to Peer regional competitions in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asian regions, today’s Facebook Global Digital Challenge marks the highest honor these teams can attain.

Representatives from each of the finalist countries were present, including Andrea Catalano, Press and Information First Counselor, Embassy of Italy; Carla Jazzar, Head of Mission, Embassy of Lebanon in Washington; and Thomas Lambert, Deputy Ambassador at the Belgium Embassy to the United States.

The Peer to Peer program began as an interagency department led by the U.S. Department of State in early 2015, and Facebook became involved as the official technology sponsor in fall 2015, forging a public–private partnership. In late 2016, the partnership transitioned to Facebook and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with EdVenture Partners — an educational consulting firm that designed and developed the program — continuing to manage P2P since its inception. Facebook now solely sponsors all international teams.

In his opening remarks, Under Secretary Wharton referenced the loss of life in Syria and the recent attack in Canada as evidence that “violent extremism knows no boundaries.” While he acknowledged that government cannot counter online extremist narratives alone, Wharton said, “The P2P (program) is an outstanding example of how this effort benefits from the power of partnering with technology companies like Facebook.”

Over the past couple years Facebook has been supporting a variety of initiatives to counter online hate and extremism.

The Peer to Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge program challenges teams of university students around the world to design, pilot, implement and measure the success of a social or digital initiative, product or tool that:
• Motivates or empowers students to become involved in countering hateful and extremist narratives.
• Catalyzes other students to create their own initiatives, products, or tools to counter hateful and extremist narratives.
• Builds a community of interest/network focused on living shared values that counter hateful and extremist narratives through action.

To learn more about the program and its university participants, please visit http://edventurepartners.com/peer2peer or contact Stacey, EdVenture Partners’ Communications Manager, at stacey@edventurepartners.com or 925.257.0949.