How to Avoid Extremism on Social Media

Extremist groups have been trolling the internet for decades, and they have learned to temper their words and disguise their intentions. RAND researchers recently developed a scorecard that rates websites and social media platforms based on how receptive they are to extremist content. Individuals can reference it to better understand how to avoid extremist content online.

“There's this idea that there's a dark part of the internet, and if you just stay away from websites with a Nazi flag at the top, you can avoid this material,” said RAND's Alexandra Evans. “What we found is that this dark internet, this racist internet, doesn't exist.”

In other words, although sites vary in how much hateful and violent content they host, extremist content can be found just about anywhere online.

“Most of those who ascribe to these types of violent extremism do not clearly associate themselves with an organized group,” RAND's Heather Williams recently told NPR. “This, combined with the fact they can self-radicalize from the internet, complicates prevention.”

With Alumni Impact Fund support, Evans and Williams are now working to widely disseminate their findings.

Read more about their work