Justice Department Studying ‘Far-Right’ Social Media Use

Elizabeth Harrington, Free Beacon, June 1, 2015

The Department of Justice is concentrating on “far-right” groups in a new study of social media usage aimed at combating violent extremism.

The Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded Michigan State University $585,719 for the study, which was praised by Eric Holder, the former attorney general, earlier this year.

“There is currently limited knowledge of the role of technology and computer mediated communications (CMCs), such as Facebook and Twitter, in the dissemination of messages that promote extremist agendas and radicalize individuals to violence,” according to the NIJ grant. “The proposed study will address this gap through a series of qualitative and quantitative analyses of posts from various forms of CMC used by members of both the far-right and Islamic extremist movements.”

The study draws more upon right-wing forums than upon the corners of the web inhabited by Islamist extremists.

“We will collect posts made in four active forums used by members of the far-right and three from the Islamic Extremist community, as well as posts made in Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, YouTube, and Pastebin accounts used by members of each movement,” the grant said.

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The results will be used for a public webinar, and for presentations for counterterrorism experts in the United States.

Holder highlighted the study in remarks this February at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, as an example of the new methods the Justice Department is using to combat terrorist threats.

Holder said the study will “help us develop more effective techniques and partnerships for counter-messaging.”

 

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