Identify and Tackle Online Extremism

The Global Network on Extremism & Technology (GNET) released a report by Elsa Bengtsson Meuller titled A Feminist Theorisation of Cybersecurity to Identify and Tackle Online Extremism. Available in six languages, this report discusses the ways cybersecurity policies fail to prioritize online abuse. According to the report, online abuse is “gendered and racialised in its design,” often promoting male supremacy.

Concerns about security have traditionally been approached through
a militarised lens and centred on the protection of the state.

Through three main recommendations, the author believes that redirecting Preventing and Counter Violent Extremism (P/CVE) and cybersecurity policies to include the experiences of marginalised groups will create the much needed support for victims of online abuse. These recommendations include:

  • Incorporate misogynist and racist online abuse into our conceptions of extremism.
  • Shift the focus from responding to attacks and violence to addressing structural violence online.
  • Empower and centre victims and survivors of online abuse
    and extremism.

In short, this author calls for a victim-centered approach in facing online abuse and extremism. A more balanced approach — equal attention given to perpetrators as well as victims — is also needed. Online extremism isn’t just limited to social media and the workplace. Another GNET report released a day later discusses extremism in the online gaming world: Online Gaming Ecosystem: Assessing Digital Socialisation, Extremism Risks and Harms Mitigation Efforts, by Galen Englund and Jessica White. Similarly, this report recommends policy changes to protect victims of online abuse. This report includes a policy section written by Nicola Mathieson, identifying 5 areas of action each for technology companies and policymakers.

For more information, check out HSDL’s In Focus topic on Online Extremism.

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