The Internet, especially since the emergence of social media in 2005, is increasingly depicted as an active vector for violent radicalization. The production, dissemination, and consumption of multimedia via the open online Internet have been instrumental in the propagation of hateful, discriminatory speech. However, most of the available research on Internet/social media and violent radicalization is descriptive in nature, providing limited insights on the true impact of terrorist groups’ online practices and strategies. In other words, the link between exposure to violent radical material online and violent radical behavior online and/or offline remains unknown, largely due to the lack of integration of available empirical evidence into a meaningful whole for policy, research, and prevention purposes.
CPN-PREV and its partners have reviewed the literature on exposure to violent radical online content and the violent radicalization of attitudes and behaviors. The systematic review achieved the following objectives:
- Synthesize the available empirical evidence on how the Internet and social media may, or may not, constitute spaces for exchange that can be favorable to violent extremist forms of engagement – both online and offline;
- Assess the current state and quality of the available scientific evidence;
- Identify gaps and limitations in the literature and highlight future research needs.