A Cyber-Psychological and Behavioral Approach to Online Radicalization

A Cyber-Psychological and Behavioral Approach to Online Radicalization

Reyhan Topal (Bilkent University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4053-3.ch012


This chapter attempts to synthesize the mainstream theories of radicalization and the cyber-psychological and behavioral approaches with a view to identifying individuals' radicalization online. Based on the intersections of those two fields, this chapter first elaborates how radical groups use cyberspace with a specific concentration on the so-called cyber caliphate claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Second, it revisits mainstream theories of radicalization and specifies the psychological and behavioral facets of the radicalization processes proposed by those theories. Following that, it integrates theories of radicalization with cyber-psychological and behavioral explanations of online radicalization to reveal how ISIS's use of cyberspace attracts individuals and facilitates online radicalization.
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Online Radicalization And Radicals’ Use Of Cyberspace

Currently almost one-third of the world’s population uses smart phones (Statista, 2017), Facebook has more than 2 billion active users (Statista, 2017), and Twitter has 328 million monthly users (Statista, 2017). Considering the transformative characteristic of internet technologies, and the facilitating role of social media platforms for communication and influence, it seems unsurprising that radical groups embraced those opportunities for the same reasons as other groups (Aly, et al., 2017). If one construes terrorism as a type of communication (Schmid and de Graaf, 1982) or as a form of “communicative violence” (Aly, et al., 2017), then disseminating propaganda messages to attract the masses and gain sympathizers/new recruits are central to it. Hence, this aspect of internet technologies which is prone to abuse became a golden opportunity for radical groups that hinge on communication due to the aforementioned reasons.

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