Social Media: Conspiracy Theories and Radicalization

social media and fake news. propaganda disinformation.
The Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) has released their latest report, Conspiracy Theories, Radicalisation and Digital Media, discussing the role of social media in inducing radicalization and terrorism through the spread of conspiracy theories.  In the wake of violent incidents spurred by disinformation, many believe more should be done to mitigate conspiracy theories; however, the ethical boundaries surrounding this topic are far from straight-forward.

In this report, GNET aims to prove the following:

  • That conspiracy theories are disseminated through social networking and media sharing platforms.
  • That conspiracy theories have historically played an important role in radicalisation, terrorism, persecution, and genocide.
  • That belief in conspiracy theories is psychologically associated with bigotry, extremism, and willingness to break the law.
  • That the perpetrators and alleged perpetrators of many recent mass shooting events were motivated by a belief in conspiracy theories.
  • That conspiracy theories have played a key role in recent political violence in the USA, including the insurrection of 6 January 2021.
  • That actions taken by social networking and media sharing platforms are inadequate to solve the problems associated with conspiracy theories, in part because the platforms themselves are designed in a way that serves to nurture and protect conspiracy beliefs.

For more information, view more articles on HSDL related to Social Media and Conspiracy Theories, or visit Featured Topics on DisinformationCyber PolicyDomestic (U.S.) TerrorismGlobal Terrorism, and Lone Wolf Terrorism, Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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