Cults and Online Violent Extremism

The Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) has recently published a new report, Cults and Online Violent Extremism. In this study, the authors sought to provide a more nuanced understanding into online cultic behavior by proposing and analyzing three types of groupings that may “glorify and inspire violent extremisms”: Cultic Religious Groups, Online Cultic Milieus and Cultic Fandoms.

Many of the Cultic Religious Groups stem from older religious traditions that have made their way online, giving individuals who my be prone to violent extremism new ways to access and interact with these ideologies. The report goes in depth on one group in particular, the Order of Nine Angles, a religious movement that contains elements of occultism and Satanism, and has links to neo-Nazi inspired violence.

Online Cultic Milieus represent the cult movements that are tied to “underground knowledge” or conspiracy theories. For this grouping, the authors take a closer look at anti-vaccine movements and the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Online Cultic Fandoms refer to the cult followings that focus on “individuals who have committed acts of extremist violence and are elevated by the fans to the status of charismatic hero figures or in some cases saints or even gods.” Two case examples are provided in the study: the followings centered around the acts of Ted Kaczynski, as well as the acts of the Columbine mass shooters.

The full report can be accessed here: Cults and Online Violent Extremism.

More resources related to cults and online extremism can be found at HSDL.

Note: you may need to login to the HSDL to view some resources mentioned in the blog.

Need help finding something?  Ask our librarians for assistance!

Scroll to Top