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The main objective of this systematic review is to synthesize the empirical evidence on how the Internet and social media may, or may not, constitute spaces for exchange that can be favorable to violent extremism. Of the 5,182 studies generated from the searches, 11 studies were eligible for inclusion in this review. We considered empirical studies with qualitative, quantitative, and mixed designs, but did not conduct meta-analysis due to the heterogeneous and at times incomparable nature of the data. The reviewed studies provide tentative evidence that exposure to radical violent online material is associated with extremist online and offline attitudes, as well as the risk of committing political violence among white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and radical Islamist groups. Active seekers of violent radical material also seem to be at higher risk of engaging in political violence as compared to passive seekers. The Internet's role thus seems to be one of decision-shaping, which, in association with offline factors, can be associated to decision-making. The methodological limitations of the reviewed studies are discussed, and recommendations are made for future research.
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... There are already some systematic reviews of subsets of associations between political behaviour and media use that fall within the scope of our analysis, including reviews of the association between media and radicalization 38,39 , polarization 32 , hate speech 40 , participation [41][42][43][44][45] , echo chambers 46 and campaigning on Twitter 47 . These extant reviews, however, did not contrast and integrate the wide range of politically relevant variables into one comprehensive analysis-an objective that we pursue here. ...
... The search query (Fig. 6) was constructed in consultation with professional librarians and was designed to be as broad as possible to pick up any articles containing original empirical evidence of direct or indirect effects of digital media on democracy (including correlational evidence). We further consulted recent, existing review articles in the field 32,39,40 to check for important articles that did not appear in the review body. Articles that were included manually are referenced separately in the flowchart (Fig. 6). ...
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One of today’s most controversial and consequential issues is whether the global uptake of digital media is causally related to a decline in democracy. We conducted a systematic review of causal and correlational evidence (N = 496 articles) on the link between digital media use and different political variables. Some associations, such as increasing political participation and information consumption, are likely to be beneficial for democracy and were often observed in autocracies and emerging democracies. Other associations, such as declining political trust, increasing populism and growing polarization, are likely to be detrimental to democracy and were more pronounced in established democracies. While the impact of digital media on political systems depends on the specific variable and system in question, several variables show clear directions of associations. The evidence calls for research efforts and vigilance by governments and civil societies to better understand, design and regulate the interplay of digital media and democracy.
... There is some suggestion that exposure on its own has some substantial effects. Hassan et al. (2018) conducted a systematic review on the link between exposure to extremist online content and violent radicalization. Having identified a set of 11 empirical studies, using a range of methods and focusing on several extremist ideologies, the review concludes that there is tentative evidence that exposure leads to radicalization, although it is not clear which level of involvement is needed on the user's side to become more radicalized. ...
... A final unknown noted here concerns the uncertainty over effect sizes for any indirect harm caused by the perpetuation of extremist online networks and extremist online culture. As noted above, the Internet provides the mechanisms for radicalization and the opportunities for encountering relevant content (Magdy et al., 2016;Hassan et al., 2018;Costello et al., 2020;Smith et al., 2020;Saha et al., 2019). Those radicalized online can therefore have effects on others by the endorsement and spreading of propaganda and similar content. ...
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This work is concerned with the extent and magnitude of threat related to online radicalization in the context of terrorist acts and related offending. Online influences have been depicted as major drivers for the propagation and adoption of extremist ideologies, which often contain an element of collective grievance, and subsequent acts of violence. This is most pronounced in the discussion of so-called lone actor terrorism, but extends to all forms of extremist offending, and beyond. The present work situates online radicalization leading to terrorist acts within the wider context of grievance-based beliefs and attitudes. Further, it addresses current positions and debates surrounding the relevance and mechanisms of online radicalization in terrorist offending. Recent evidence from quantitative studies is reviewed to estimate prevalence of online radicalization and the level of threat that results from it. This is followed by a discussion of plausible, but opposing, interpretations of the estimates presented. While online radicalization does occur, with and without reference to offline processes, the resulting threat is not overly high. This assessment, however, refers to the present only and is unlikely to hold for the future, given the general growth and acceleration of online activity among terrorist actors.
... Narrative isolation eliminates the demand to defend one's views, seemingly deepening their convictions, possibly to the point of radicalization. This may be especially true of individuals whose cognitive avoidance isolates them in an online environment populated by extremists promoting violence as an acceptable means to reconcile the dissonance (Hassan et al., 2018). ...
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This research explores the theoretical underpinnings of the expressed hero narrative utilized by groups and individuals to justify their opposition and use of violence against their own government and citizens. By using narrative analysis, this research deconstructs the language used by the groups and individuals involved in the 6 January 2021, attack on the United States Capitol. What emerges is a theory of self‐radicalization and rationalization where one believes their actions are justified because they perceive themselves to be the hero. Their belief and ideology are built on a foundation of cognitive dissonance, in which they construct a paradoxical hero identity, all while engaged in destructive political violence.
... Youth radicalization occurs through both face-to-face group encounters and internet and virtual contacts and is more likely to result when these two processes happen simultaneously [28][29][30]. Despite their important role in affecting recipients' beliefs, attitudes, and intentions, little is known about individual dispositional factors involved in sensitivity to propaganda whether online or offline [31]. ...
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Background: The sympathy-empathy (SE) system is commonly considered a key faculty implied in prosocial behaviors, and SE deficits (also called callous-unemotional traits, CUTs) are associated with nonprosocial and even violent behaviors. Thus, the first intuitive considerations considered a lack of SE among young people who undergo radicalization. Yet, their identification with a cause, their underlying feelings of injustice and grievance, and the other ways in which they may help communities, suggest that they may actually have a lot of empathy, even an excess of it. As a consequence, the links between SE and radicalization remain to be specified. This critical review aims to discuss whether and how SE is associated with developmental trajectories that lead young people to radicalization. Method: We first recall the most recent findings about SE development, based on an interdisciplinary perspective informed by social neuroscience. Then, we review sociological and psychological studies that address radicalization. We will critically examine the intersections between SE and radicalization, including neuroscientific bases and anthropologic modulation of SE by social factors involved in radicalization. Results: This critical review indicates that the SE model should clearly distinguish between sympathy and empathy within the SE system. Using this model, we identified three possible trajectories in young radicalized individuals. In individuals with SE deficit, the legitimization of violence is enough to engage in radicalization. Concerning individuals with normal SE, we hypothesize two trajectories. First, based on SE inhibition/desensitization, individuals can temporarily join youths who lack empathy. Second, based on an SE dissociation, combining emotional sympathy increases for the in-group and cognitive empathy decreases toward the out-group. Conclusions: While confirming that a lack of empathy can favor radicalization, the counterintuitive hypothesis of a favorable SE development trajectory also needs to be considered to better specify the cognitive and affective aspects of this complex phenomenon.
... Perhaps even more disturbingly, exposure to cyberhate is likely an early step toward radicalization as these materials can reinforce views of extremist groups (Cowan & Melltrick, 2002;Foxman & Wolf, 2013;Hawdon, 2012). Indeed, violent extremists in the United States and the United Kingdom frequently produce and consume cyberhate prior to committing their violent acts (Anti-Defamation League, 2018; Hassan et al., 2018;Williams, 2019). Several of these acts have even been livestreamed using social media (Jee, 2019;Graham-McLay et al., 2019), providing a cycle of cyberhate. ...
Chapter
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Chapter
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The chapter was written in part with the following contributors and be found in Heavy Metal Music and the Communal Experience: Vivek Venkatesh, PhD*; Bradley J. Nelson, PhD*; Tieja Thomas, PhD*; Jason J. Wallin, PhD**; Jeffrey S. Podoshen, PhD***; Kathryn Jezer-Morton*; Jihan Rabah*; Kathryn Urbaniak*; Méi-Ra St. Laurent ***** *Concordia University, Canada **University of Alberta, Canada ***Franklin & Marshall College, United States of America ****Uppsala University, Sweden *****Université Laval, Canada
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Terrorism research has begun to focus on the issue of radicalization, or the acceptance of ideological belief systems that lead toward violence. There has been particular attention paid to the role of the Internet in the exposure to and promotion of radical ideas. There is, however, minimal work that attempts to model the ways that messages are spread or how individual participation in radical on-line communities operates. In this paper, we present a stochastic linear system to represent the evolution of contribution to a sample of 126 threads in an on-line forum where individuals discuss radical belief systems. To estimate or predict the time-varying contributions of agents for given onlineforum data, each agent’s contribution has been modeled as a state variable. We then use the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm to identify the model parameters including the adjacency matrix of the graph constructed among participating agents along with measurement and system uncertainty levels in online-postings. Our approach reveals the identified dynamical influences among agents in the time-varying shaping of the contribution in a datadriven fashion. We use the real-world data from online-postings to demonstrate the usefulness of our approach, and its application toward on-line radicalization.