VOX-Pol talks to Belgian public broadcaster about the online strategies of radical groups

VOX-Pol’s Principle Investigator Dr Maura Conway and Professor Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), a VOX-Pol partner institution, appeared on VRT, Belgium’s Flemish language public broadcaster, earlier this month.

Professor Brown and Dr Conway discussed the role of the Internet in violent extremism and the social media strategies of radical groups such as the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS).

Both experts noted the large quantities and ‘high production values’ of the video material produced by groups like IS. Dr Conway also highlighted the availability of the material in a wide range of formats and in a variety of languages.

“They put a lot of resources into this online media strategy, clearly because they feel like it’s having an impact,” Dr Conway said. Professor Brown raised important questions in contemporary research on the subject:

Is it about watching these videos online? Is it about chatting to people in the Middle East online? Or is it actually, as many researchers say, much more about young men—and it is usually about young men—and their social context at home?

Both experts cautioned, however, against governments moving to impose tight controls on the Internet as a response to radical material appearing online.

Dr Conway and Professor Brown were in Brussels for VOX-Pol’s Workshop on the Ethics and Politics of Online Monitoring of Violent Extremism. They also participated in a VOX-Pol-organised Panel Monitoring the Net for Violent Extremist Material at the CPDP Conference during the same week.

Watch the full VRT news segment below:

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