Molly Wood

Extremists Online: How a Troll Becomes a Terrorist

NPR Marketplace Morning Report


Radicalism, terrorism, and hatred of perceived "others" are, sadly, as old as humanity. But the internet--social media platforms in particular--has proven to be the perfect delivery mechanism for this age-old poison. Researchers and social media experts, and academics have warned for years that a generation of people is being radicalized online. When a gunman killed at least 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, he appeared to be the ultimate product of that process. He used the language of internet trolls, he carefully tailored his live video broadcasts and his messaging to be as viral as possible on social media, and members of sympathetic online communities celebrated his actions unashamedly.