Radicalisation by extremist groups or individuals can be perpetrated via a number of means: face-to-face by peers, in organised groups in the community and, increasingly, online. Their targets are individuals or groups of people who can be easily led towards terrorist ideologies because of their experiences, state of mind or sometimes their upbringing.
However extremists attempt to influence vulnerable people, the internet invariably plays some kind of role, being widely used both to create initial interest, and as reinforcement to other means of communication. As is the case with everything it is used for, the internet enables considerably larger numbers of people to be reached, in a wider geographic area, and with less effort by the perpetrators.
The power of social media is well-known, and it is this that is the main channel for such grooming – be it Facebook, Twitter or the multitude of other sites and apps. Other online channels include chat rooms, forums, instant messages and texts. All are also used by extremists for their day-to-day communication, as is the dark web.
Social media is also used for research by extremists, making it easy for them to identify those who may be vulnerable from what they reveal in their profiles, posts/tweets, photos and friend lists.
- Beware of attempts to radicalise you or those you know, and consider the consequences.
- Report attempted or actual radicalisation immediately.
Vulnerability to extremist grooming and brainwashing via social media sites, chatrooms, texts and instant messages.
How to guard against online radicalisation:
- If you are approached or groomed, think long and hard about the consequences of radicalisation to yourself, your family and friends, and your basic values.
- Keep an eye on family members, friends and others you think may be susceptible to radicalisation. Have their behaviour patterns changed? Have they become withdrawn or introverted for no apparent reason? Has their belief structure altered? Are they making unusual travel plans? Are mutual friends and acquaintances also concerned?