The social media news platform WOKE, which targets Muslims and people interested in Islam, was set up within the Prevent programme – a project run by the UK Home office to counter terrorism, the London-based website Middle East Eye reports.
According to the outlet, described as an “independently funded online news organisation”, the content for the “This is Woke” Facebook and Instagram accounts was created by the communications firm “Breakthrough Media”, recently rebranded “Zinc Media”, which served as a contractor for the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a directorate within the UK Home Office. However, CNN reports that four months ago it stopped working on the account, with the agency M&C Saatchi having since assumed this task.
WOKE appears to be a millennial-focused platform and includes posts with inspirational quotes from people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and the second Islamic caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, as well as clips about fake news and public issues. It also features videos about Muslim traditions, such as women wearing the hijab or following Ramadan, along with panel discussions and vox pops. Some have gone viral, garnering thousands of views.
In accordance with the UK’s Freedom of Information Act, the OSCT confirmed to the MEE that it has such a project, but refused to disclose any details, citing security concerns as well as commercial confidentiality.
The counter-terror office stated that revealing more “would open up detailed information about organisations and individuals who are engaged in the delivery of, and who are supporting activities to prevent terrorism”. According to the OSCT, this would “undermine the effectiveness of the Home Office strategies, and hence weaken and prejudice the national security of the UK”.
The Prevent programme is viewed as a key counter-radicalisation tool and includes a classified unit called the Research Information and Communications Unit (RICU), which is said to be behind covert propaganda campaigns, the MEE reports. The outlet cites internal documents as saying that the project’s counter-ideological messages are “to effect behavioural and attitudinal change” among so-called “Prevent audiences” – a term used to describe young British Muslim males. Zinc Media, formerly Breakthrough Media, reportedly said in its papers that their aim was to “promote a reconciled British Muslim identity”.
As CNN points out, the Prevent programme has been accused of promoting discrimination, although the Home Office has denied that it targeted specific demographics, insisting that it was designed to counter "all forms of terrorism, including Islamist and extreme right-wing”.