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Radicalization on the Internet: Virtual Extremism in the U.S. from 2012-2017

NCJ Number
Date Published
11 pages

This is the Final Summary Overview of a study that examined who is viewing extremist material on the internet that promotes violence in the United States.


The study had the following four objectives: 1) Identify active online extremist groups based in the United States; 2) Create “virtual” profiles of a sample of extremist groups operating online; 3) Elaborate the frames of extremist groups operating online; and 4) Discern the impact online hate and/or extremist material has on individuals who encounter this material and which types of material are more/less influential. Study methodology consisted of randomly sampling a list of hate groups from broad categories of hate identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It then examined how hate groups use the Internet to recruit, advertise, spread their message, and raise funds. Virtual ethnography involved researchers observing online groups by collecting posted text, images, music, videos, and posted narratives as a form of non-obtrusive measures. This informed the development of online surveys for the second portion of the study. Online surveys of Internet users ages 15-36 were conducted to gain an understanding of the dynamics of online hate material. In completing the goals of this study, it has identified behavioral patterns that correlate with viewing online hate material, being targeted by it, and producing it. This information is essential in understanding the radicalization process, which is increasingly occurring in online settings. An annotated listing is provided of four articles based on the study.

Date Published: January 1, 2019