The topic of online radicalization is ubiquitous within common discourse around terrorism and extremism. However, there is a distinct lack of empirical research which focuses on how the Internet affects this process. The prevailing wisdom among academics is that despite the large digital footprint in modern cases of terrorism and extremism, the Internet is a facilitator, rather than a driver, of radicalization. After outlining the literature in the field, this research offers five reasons why a healthy degree of skepticism may be prudent, and then offers a case study analysis of three actors who have been radicalized in recent years to discern the role the Internet played and how important it was compared to other factors. It finds that two of the case studies largely conform to the prevailing wisdom, while one offers good evidence that the Internet can, under certain circumstances, play a potentially driving role.
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