A new report by Quilliam entitled ‘Jihad Trending: A Comprehensive Analysis of Online Extremism and How to Counter it’ is released today. The report maps Islamist extremist usage of the Internet and explores the role extremist materials online play in the radicalisation process. It also focuses on how online extremism can be countered, offering a comprehensive range of counter-measures.

Key findings of the report include:

• The vast majority of radicalised individuals come into contact with extremist ideology through offline socialisation prior to being indoctrinated online. This challenges popular discourse about ‘lone wolf’ actors radicalised solely through the Internet.

• Although governments are increasingly relying on censorship and filtering methods to counter online extremism, this report found that negative measures, or censorship in general, was not only ineffective and costly but also potentially counter-productive.

• Positive measures, such as developing counter-extremist efforts through online counterspeech content and popularising online initiatives that fight against extremism are much more effective in challenging extremist ideologies. However, there are currently not enough materials that counter extremist content online, allowing extremists to monopolise the discourse around certain geopolitical issues and events.

Co-author of the report and senior researcher at Quilliam, Erin Saltman, says:

“This report represents one of the most comprehensive analyses of online extremism to date and can hopefully make a significant contribution to knowledge in this area. In particular, we would like to see emphasis shifted away from censorship and towards counterspeech or, in other words, from shutting down the debate to having a more robust debate with those that seek to use the internet for extremist indoctrination and propaganda.”

A PDF copy of the full report is available online here. An executive summary is available in English here and in French here.