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CSUSB professor discusses impact of online decentralization of extremist groups
Jan. 21, 2022

As part of an online slide presentation on “7 trends in online extremism to look out for in 2022,” the news website featured Brian Levin, director of CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, under the topic “The far-right is decentralizing online.”

The article noted that after right-wing extremists’ 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., many such groups have moved toward decentralizing their organizations. Such a splintering over a multitude of online platforms makes them difficult to monitor, especially as they insert themselves into local protests.

“While the larger social media platforms will continue to struggle with de-platforming extremism, it is likely that the cascade to less regulated affinity-based and encrypted platforms will also continue, overlaying a fractured communication terrain on to an already splintered and polarized electorate,” Levin, a professor of criminal justice, told Gizmodo.

“This cascade across multiple platforms will likely produce increasingly, though not exclusively, a reversion to regionalized low-level conflicts, that may spread, escalate, or be punctuated by violence from cells or loners who radicalize and network online,” Levin added.

He also commented on the impact disinformation will have on the upcoming mid-term elections.

“In past conflictual mid-term and presidential election years we have seen spikes in bigoted, disinformation and extremist content around wedge issues running through and after the election, that in turn often translates to conflict in the real world, like spikes in hate crimes and even homicidal plots,” Levin told Gizmodo.

“An online elastic pool of grievance that has served as a reservoir for conspiracy theories, anti-government sentiment, and bigotry will again morph around hot-button issues, but it will often have an idiosyncratic twist as the information buffet is spread across different platforms,” Levin added.

Read the complete article at “7 trends in online extremism to look out for in 2022.”

This news clip and others may be viewed at “In the Headlines.”