Echo-chambers on social media radicalise young people, according to study

Thu, 15 Jul 2021 14:48:00 BST
Researchers from GCU and 10 other institutions examined social media use across Europe
Researchers from GCU and 10 other institutions examined social media use across Europe

Extremist groups are using echo chambers on social media to radicalise and recruit young people across Europe, according to a new study. 

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University and 10 other institutions examined how images and videos are promoted across digital platforms by supporters of far-right groups. 

They found Jihadist, far-right, anti-Semitic, and anti-refugee content either boosted recruitment for extremist groups or led to more young people consuming messages of hate. 

Social media use in the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Jordan, Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Hungary, Turkey, and Italy was studied for a series of reports entitled The Cultural Drivers of Radicalisation. 

The findings show digital platforms and popular culture are helping to mainstream radicalisation, according to researchers. 

Professor Umut Korkut, of Glasgow Caledonian University, said: "Cultural and political polarisation are facts of life in most countries, and this is driving marginal people, particularly in online forums, to embrace extreme ideologies. 

"Each claim for justice and grievance creates its own echo-chamber online. 

"These echo-chambers do not foster interaction. As people become alienated from each other, the radicalising movements consolidate." 

Dr Ozge Ozduzen, of project partners Brunel University London, added: "These reports enables us to see how the discourses on the mainstream media in different countries run parallel to extreme right-wing social media posts and profiles of far-right groups." 

The UK report examined radicalisation patterns on TikTok and highlighted some widely shared far-right and anti-refugee videos targeting young people. 

In France, researchers studied how anti-Semitic content was shared online, while in Germany researchers outlined how the use of alternative media content by the far-right party Alternative for Germany has increased polarisation. 

The sharing of xenophobic content in Slovenia, extremist videos in Austria, far-right material via YouTube in Italy, anti-refugee images in Turkey, Serbia and Hungary, and Jihadist videos in Kosovo and Jordan was also studied. 

The findings are part of a three-year £2.7million study into radicalisation and violent extremism, led by the Wise Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University. De-Radicalisation in Europe and Beyond: Detect, Resolve, Re-integrate (D.Rad), will seek to identify trends in radical ideologies, help shape policies to improve social inclusion, and forecast the potential impact on society of the widening inequalities created by COVID-19.

For more information visit - https://dradproject.com