Feeling Terrified? The Emotions of Online Violent Extremism

Some holding up a cardboard message sign "preventing violent extremism"

This report by Cambridge University Press is available for free to view for a limited time, 12th November – 26th November. 

This Cambridge Elements Series, “Elements on Histories of Emotions and the Senses,” contains 10 Elements [reports], and two more coming soon to the site. This Element, “Feeling Terrified? The Emotions of Online Violent Extremism” explores the reactions and interactions of young people online when they are exposed to violent extremist material. The information found in this report is based on four years of research involving focus groups consisting of young people.

This Element is about young people, online terrorism, and emotion. In it, we explore the issues of how young people consume violent extremist material in the digital era: how it makes them feel, what they do with this content and these feelings afterwards, and how they talk about it with friends and family.

The report lists various examples of violent extremist incidents that have occurred throughout the world, explaining how the media has reacted to these events and what effects these reactions have had on youth. The authors note that it is easy to assume that youth would have an extremely negative reaction to being exposed to violent extremist materials, but the four year study has suggested otherwise,

[…] revealing them to have a relatively sophisticated relationship with violent extremism on social media that challenges simplistic concerns about processes of radicalisation.

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