More evidence is emerging of the British government developing motivational online media platforms targeted at young women as part of a covert counter-terrorism campaign. Security officials have acknowledged that a Facebook page and Instagram account entitled Stoosh were created as part of the UK’s controversial Prevent counter-radicalisation programme.
The admission comes nine months after the same officials confirmed that a similar online platform entitled This Is Woke had been created as part of the programme.
Stoosh draws its name from a Jamaican patois term meaning superior, while This Is Woke draws upon the expression “stay woke”, a call – originally African-American – to remain aware of social and racial justice issues.
Stoosh Facebook’s page was created on 20 March 2017, according to Facebook transparency information. Neither the Facebook nor Instagram pages have been updated since 6 March 2018.
Stoosh describes itself on Facebook as a page that “aims to promote a safe online environment for young women to tell their stories, taking ownership of their own narrative”.
Both Stoosh and This is Woke described themselves on Facebook as having been produced by a “media/news company”.
In fact, they were created by a London-based communications company called Breakthrough Media, which was under contract to the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a unit within the UK government’s Home Office.
‘Like a cult’
One person who worked on the Stoosh programme at Breakthrough described how a number of people with large social media followings were recruited as influencers, and paid to promote it by using hashtags or retweeting its content.
This person said that extensive research was carried out by examining the social media usage of potential influencers – some of them as young as 16 – before they were approached and asked to assist.
“They weren’t told what was going on, they weren’t told about the Home Office,” this person said.
“And we were warned by managers not to talk about Breakthrough outside the office, or put anything about it on our CVs.
“New arrivals to Breakthrough weren’t told what was going on. They were left to work it out.
“It felt like being in a cult. There was a lot of paranoia around the office. People used to walk to the other side of the Thames to have conversations about what they were doing at work.”
The Stoosh Instagram page was last updated on 6 March 2018 (Screengrab)
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I suspect these guys: