Our Muslim Voices:

Nuanced Counter-Narratives of Being Muslim Online

The goal of this project is to understand how Muslim-American counter narratives are shaped, who amplifies them, how sustainable they are, and how their impact differs.


This project will achieve three goals: 1) deeper understanding of how marginalized groups craft counter narratives 2) how those counter narratives affect the marginalized group and people outside of the group, and 3) provide recommendations for design and policy interventions.


We will create a repository of events, hashtags, and keywords that were used to counter narratives that aimed to stereotype, demonize, or harm Muslims (e.g. #MuslimsReportStuff, #CanYouHearUsNow, #UnapologeticallyMuslim, and changes in sentiment regarding #MuslimBan).

We aim to publish the results of our work as a research paper and also in more public-facing formats such as op-eds or blog posts. We will also produce novel technical and policy interventions to better support marginalized groups in their efforts to push back against online harms. Although our initial focus is on harm targeting Muslim Americans, one of the key outcomes of our work will be to use this research as a model for design and policy intervention in other contexts.


The project is among the winners of Facebook’s content policy research award (link). The research will be carried out independently by the four researchers of the project, without Facebook’s oversight, editorial input, or access to any research data. The approximate timeline of the project is from June 2020 to February 2021.


UC Berkeley School of Information put out a press release about our goals for the project. Our past work and projects have also received press coverage: Dr. Lajevardi spoke about her latest book, Outsiders at Home, on NPR and Religion News. Dr. Salehi and Roya Pakzad's work on computational propaganda was covered by Buzzfeed News and the research about Islamophobic content and Gab was covered by CNN.


Dr. Mariam Asad holds a Ph.D. in Digital Media from Georgia Institute of Technology, working on how technology design can offer opportunities for civic participation through grassroots/community-based initiatives. Website: www.notmiriam.com/

Dr. Nazita Lajevardi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, working on issues related to public opinion and political behavior through the lens of religious and racial identity. Website: www.nazitalajevardi.com/

Roya Pakzad is the founder and director at Taraaz, an organization working at the intersection of technology and human rights. Website: https://taraazresearch.org/about/royapakzad/

Dr. Niloufar Salehi is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information at UC, Berkeley, working on social computing, participatory and critical design, human-AI interaction, and more broadly, human-computer-interaction (HCI). Website: www.niloufar.org/

Related Projects

Outsiders at Home: The Politics of American Islamophobia (Nazita Lajevardi, 2020)

Anti-Muslim Americans: Computational Propaganda in the United States (Roya Pakzad, Niloufar Salehi, 2019)

Incubating Hate: Islamophobia and Gab (Roya Pakzad, Samuel C. Woolley, and Nicholas Monaco, 2019)

Understanding Muslim Political Life in America: Contested Citizenship in the Twenty-First Century (Nazita Lajevardi and Brian R. Calfano, 2019)

Bits of Life: Leveraging Emerging Technologies to Improve the Livelihoods of Refugees (Roya Pakzad, 2017)

Creating a Sociotechnical API: Designing City Scale Community Engagement (Mariam Asad, Christopher Le Dantec, Becky Nielsen, Kate Diedrick, 2017)


Aude Nasr (commissioned artist for website banner)

Sarah Sakha (Research Associate)


If you are a journalist or member of the press interested in learning more about our project, please reach out! If you have any questions about the project, or wish to know more, please don't hesitate to contact us via email and we will respond to you as soon as we can.