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The far-right threat

How does the far right use the internet to recruit?

internet-recruitment-small-steps

Far-right groups have become increasingly sophisticated in using social media to recruit and radicalise young people, predominantly young and vulnerable white men. Website forums and far-right pages on social media are breeding grounds for far-right recruiters, where they can chat with unsuspecting teenagers and confused individuals.

Tapping into global instability and genuine concerns over the rise of Islamist extremism, these groups promote anti-Muslim hatred, backed by fake news and distorted facts to increase their influence both online and offline.

Currently the far-right movement in the UK is fragmented without a joined-up agenda or leader. However, a 2017 Guardian report highlights that while some former members of the English Defence League (EDL) and Pegida have joined smaller, more militant groups, others have focused their efforts on spreading hate online. They use social media to widen their platform and maintain close ties with like-minded groups abroad. Far-right websites constantly peddle an ‘us versus them’, anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, racist rhetoric, using the threat posed by Islamist extremist violence as an opportunity to polarise our society.

A recent study by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) suggests that Britain First, a far-right political party, saw a surge in social media followers in the five days after the murder of MP Jo Cox by far-right terrorist Thomas Mair. Britain First has the biggest social media following among the far right, with its number of likes just shy of two million. The group’s strategy for online expansion is simple and deceptive: they post content about issues that attract popular support such as opposing child abuse or animal cruelty, or campaigning to wear a poppy on Remembrance Day. This attracts more likes which they can then target with more openly xenophobic, anti-Muslim messages.

Internet forums are spaces where virtual meetings can take place. These are online communities where users anonymously post blatantly hate-filled racist content and messages. Far-right extremists can mobilise young people, organising real-life meetings and demos through these channels.

Social media is a daily feature of most of our lives and it would be impossible to try and keep children from using the internet. Parental restriction settings do help supervise content, but you can teach your children open mindedness and instil a fairer, more empathetic worldview. That way they can make better, more informed decisions when they’re by themselves on the internet. If you need advice or help on how to protect someone from far-right radicalisation and recruitment, either give us a call or email us. You can also sign up to one of our far-right awareness training courses here.

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