A Supplementary Intervention to Deradicalisation: CBT-Based Online Forum

A Supplementary Intervention to Deradicalisation: CBT-Based Online Forum

Priscilla Shi (Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0156-5.ch020
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Abstract

With today's technological advancements, common online platforms, such as Gmail, forum, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, are used by millions to communicate and share information in the form of text, image or both with varying synchronicity. In a similar way, violent extremists are also bringing their radical agenda online. As more individuals become radicalised by online violent extremist propaganda, the need to counter such propaganda and manage existing threats, such as incarcerated detainees who are more technology-savvy, becomes increasingly urgent. This chapter propounds the idea of online deradicalisation. First, the online milieu and its concomitant social phenomena will be discussed. Second, an overview of existing elements of deradicalisation and its target audience will be covered. Third, the chapter will delve into online psychotherapy and its potential applicability to deradicalisation. Last, the chapter will conclude with relevant implications and future research directions.
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When People Go Online

People interacting online do not exist alone. They are driven by similar motivations, such as the need for affiliation, information, and social support to connect with like-minded others (McKenna & Bargh, 1998). When interacting online, people gather and form virtual communities, whose functions are characterised by the interaction between human nature and the online environment (Madara, Kalafat, & Miller, 1988). According to Shayo, Olfman, Iriberri, and Igbaria (2007), the virtual community consists of

[V]arious forms of computer-mediated communications, particularly long-term, textually mediated conversations among large groups … of people who may or may not meet one another face-to-face, and who exchange words and ideas through the mediation of computer networks and bulletin boards. (p. 206)

Such online interactions are empowering because it gives people a sense of acceptance and normality (Madara, 1999; Walter & Boyd, 2002). Furthermore, due to the less conspicuous individual differences of people interacting in online communications, group membership is enhanced by perceived similarities (Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 2002). Thus, virtual communities allow diverse, often minority, groups to be heard and members to find solidarity, “power, authority, and control over their own lives” (Shayo et al., 2007, p. 207).

Research by King and Moreggi (2007) has found two predictive factors of active participation in online communication: a lack of real world social support, and one’s coping ability prior to joining the group. People with less real world social support and those who are coping well prior to joining the group tend to participate more actively online. Hence, one might infer that people communicate online to seek support from like-minded others and/or to provide support.

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