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 chatrooms, 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.
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 Have they become withdrawn or introvert for no apparent reason? Has their belief structure altered? Are they making unusual travel plans? Are mutual friends and acquaintances also concerned?
Report online material promoting terrorism or extremism
You can report what you believe to be such material on the government website here.
If you’re reporting a terrorist or extremist incident that’s happening right now – or if there’s a threat to someone’s life – call 999 immediately. You can also report suspicious activity by contacting the police in confidence on 0800 789 321 without delay, or at gov.uk/ACT
Get more information and advice at:
- Let’s Talk About it – a website dedicated to the prevention of radicalisation and terrorism
- A guide for schools from the UK Government on how terrorist groups such as ISIL use social media to encourage travel to conflict zones: www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-use-of-social-media-for-online-radicalisation