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He’s Got Friends in Online Places: The Presence of Social Media in Radicalization

Description

Social media has become a significant aspect of American life and culture.

Criminal groups including extremists of various ideological milieus have found social

media useful in their recruitment efforts. Further,

Social media has become a significant aspect of American life and culture.

Criminal groups including extremists of various ideological milieus have found social

media useful in their recruitment efforts. Further, these online spaces allow extremists to

easily interact with one another, reinforcing each other’s radical perspectives. Little

research has examined social media’s role in radicalization and fewer studies have tested

the differences between the radicalization processes of individuals espousing disparate

ideologies. Using Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States, a data set of

804 extremist men, this study sets out to determine whether the role of social media in the

radicalization process varies between Islamist and far right extremists using social

learning as a theoretical framework. The results indicate no significant difference

regarding the role of social media in radicalization between Islamists and far rightists.

Additionally, the odds of having radical friends and family were much lower for Islamists

than far rightists, suggesting only partial support for social learning theory as an

explanation of radicalization.

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Date Created
  • 2019