RIT graduates head to D.C. for anti-terror social media competition

They want to use social media to "ex-out" extremism

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - RIT is one of three schools in the world vying for the top spot in this anti-terrorism campaign. On Monday they go up against two colleges, one from Brussels, and the other from Azerbaijan.

Social media comes naturally to most college students. And that's one reason why the U.S. State Department is hosting a social media competition to counteract ISIS' influence on the web.

One group of students who recently graduated from RIT - Olivia Hauck, Jessica Kellner, and Kailun Jiang - put their social media skills to the test and created a campaign called “It's Time: Ex-out Violent Extremism.”

“We realized really early on that education is power, and the way to challenge extremism is to expose the victims, expose who this harming,” said Hauck.

These recent college grads created original content by interviewing Rochester area refugees and Muslims.

They tried to show that there is a big difference between the religion, and the extremist take on the religion.

“It's important to educate people who don't the difference between Muslims and Islamic extremists and try to help them understand the difference,” Kellner said. “So that way, they’re not making statements that are false or inaccurate or hurtful for other people.”

The idea is to be a counter-balance to the increasing presence of ISIS on social media, and hopefully prevent people from taking extreme views. 

“So, we're just passing the right information and the truth about this to people, especially young teenagers and millennial age people” said Jiang.

The group will soon be on their way to Washington D.C., and come Monday, they will present how they have created a campaign that can create a global impact.

In the U.S., RIT went up against and beat schools like NYU and Berkeley. Their presentation is on Monday at 2:30 p.m.


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