Research groups in the U.S. and Europe now see the white supremacist and jihadi threats as two faces of the same coin, says the New York Times. They’re working on methods to fight both.
Law enforcement officials, technology companies and lawmakers have tried to limit what they call the “radicalization” of young people over the internet. The term has been used to describe young Muslim men who are inspired to take violent action by the online messages of Islamist groups like the Islamic State. It turns out that white supremacists are just as adept at it, the New York Times reports. Where the pre-internet Ku Klux Klan grew from personal connections and word of mouth, today’s white supremacist groups have figured out a way to use the internet to recruit and coordinate among a huge pool of potential racists. That became clear with the riots in Charlottesville, Va., which became a watershed event for internet-addled racists.
“It was very important for them to coordinate and become visible in public space,” said Joan Donovan of Data & Society, an online research institute. “This was an attempt to say, ‘Let’s come out; let’s meet each other. Let’s build camaraderie, and let’s show people who we are.’” Donovan and others who study how the internet shapes extremism said that even though Islamists and white nationalists have different views and motivations, there are broad similarities in how the two operate online. That includes how they spread their message, recruit and organize offline actions. The similarities suggest a kind of blueprint for a response. Efforts that may work for limiting the reach of jihadists may also work for white supremacists, and vice versa. Research groups in the U.S. and Europe now see the white supremacist and jihadi threats as two faces of the same coin. They’re working on methods to fight both, together — and slowly, they have come up with ideas for limiting how these groups recruit new members to their cause. The Times mentions several ways potentially to combat online radicalization.