Chapter 9: Using social media to research terrorism and extremism
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Social media is one of humankinds most liberating innovations, yet has become a virtual forecourt for extremists who seek to radicalise, recruit, and disseminate propaganda, effectively transforming this technology into a vessel for hatred and violence. Social media research has a rich repertoire of methods through which to capture data to aid researchers in their understanding of extremist and terrorist activity. This chapter outlines the methodological approaches of interviews, Social Network Analysis, and Open Source Intelligence, and details the affordances and limitations of each. The chapter concludes by arguing that social media both necessitates and requires methodological innovation, specifically in relation to adapting traditional methods and developing new ones specifically tailored to examining extremism in the virtual environment. Social media is in many ways modern society’s Gutenberg press, and research methods need to be technologically and ethically compatible if they are to aid the fight against extremism online.

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