Event typeCollege, Public
28 February 2024
5pm - 6.30pm
The seminar will be delivered by Dr Julia Ebner (Calleva Centre Postdoctoral Research Fellow).
Incel, conspiracy theorist, and neo-Nazi movements once belonged on the fringes of the political spectrum. Today, their ideas are becoming more widespread, accelerated by global conflict, economic crisis, and rapid technological change. Extremists across the world have skillfully expanded their reach by using cutting-edge technologies. They have also attracted the youngest generations by gamifying their communication and impacted politics by entering surprising coalitions. In recent years, online campaigns to intimidate politicians, journalists, and activists, as well as online efforts to radicalise wider groups of people towards violence, have become increasingly common. Security experts have warned that both mainstream and fringe cyberspaces (so-called alt-tech platforms) have turned into hotbeds for viral hate and the inspiration of violence. This has often left security services overwhelmed with the sheer amount of potential threats to national security.
Yet, not everyone who makes explicit threats of violence will translate their words into action. Likewise, not everyone who will commit an act of extreme violence threatens to do so beforehand. Some will even intentionally scratch the boundaries of legality by using the rhetorical weapon of satire, leading intelligence officers into a tricky security-versus-freedom dilemma. Judgement on whether a user who engages in “shitposting” constitutes a risk to violence can be difficult; yet the stakes are high. The intersection of satire and hate has escalated in a new phenomenon of political violence: gamified terrorism. As we have been able to observe the growing relationship between trolling and terrorism, traditional counter-terrorism mechanisms have become increasingly unhelpful in assessing and dealing with this emerging threat.
Based on her research, Dr Julia Ebner will give insights into patterns of radicalisation across different ideologies as well as emerging global trends in extremist mobilisation. Throughout the seminar, she will address questions such as: Why have outlandish extremist ideas taken hold in liberal democracies and how do they spread online? What are the pull and push factors that drive radicalisation, and when do they pose a risk for national security? Can would-be perpetrators of extreme violence be reliably identified by the linguistic traces they unintentionally leave behind in their online communications? In closing, she will propose a set of solutions to tackle the spread of violent extremism and to prevent acts of terrorism.
The Seminar will be held in the Magdalen Auditorium and those interested can either attend in-person or watch the livestream. To register for either mode of attendance, please click here.
For questions, please contact the Calleva Centre for Evolution and Human Science at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be informed about future Calleva events, those interested can sign up to the Centre’s mailing list here.