Myths and Realities of Online Radicalization

What Can Be Done To Address Online Radicalization

Peter Neumann of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) recently talked about the myths and realities of online radicalization and what can be done to address it. In the video, Neumann focuses on jihadist radicalization because that is his area of expertise, but also says:

A lot of the insights that I’m going to convey to you, you can easily transfer to other kinds of radicalization. So if you’re particularly interested in, for example, how people become far-right extremists then a lot of what’s in this presentation, even though it doesn’t deal directly with far-right extremism, is also relevant to you.


Neumann focuses on 5 important points for understanding and addressing online radicalization.

Terrorists or violent extremists aren’t as exceptional as we always think they are. In the media they are often portrayed almost as if they are people from mars, but in reality, of course, they are people in a way like us, and they are using the internet for exactly the same purposes that all of us are using the internet for, which is to communicate, to create networks, to exchange information and of course to convince other people of their ideas. Their ideas, of course, are different, the content of what they are doing is different, but the ways that they interact with people are not fundamentally different.

  • Censorship has caused extremists to go elsewhere. It may (temporarily) help to disrupt their online activities, but it doesn’t eliminate them.
  • Rather than focus on censorship, let’s spend more time thinking about how to engage and challenge people online (counterspeech). Or use their online presence to learn about their intentions and capabilities.

Click here to view more videos from ICSR, or check out some of their publications.

online radicalization myths and realities