Propaganda 2.0 - Psychological Effects of Right-Wing and Islamistic Extremist Internet Videos

This book deals with the psychological effects of extremist propaganda videos. Itparticularly asks the question how young adults in Germany respond to right-wing as well as Islamic extremist videos which can be found on the Internet today.This is not a book about terrorism, but about the potential conditions which mightfacilitate a climate of receptivity for radical messages in a young mass audiencewith diverging cultural and educational background and different attitudes andvalues.

The so called web 2.0, with its mostly unfiltered, user-created content providesunprecedented opportunities for extremists to present themselves and uncensoredideas to a mass audience. This internet propaganda is created in order to increaseattention and interest for extremist ideas and group memberships. It also aims toindoctrinate the recipients and, as a last consequence, to foster radicalization.The radicalizing potential has been feared by international security agencies andmass media. Nevertheless, not even the early stage effects of extremist propagandain terms of raising attention and interest have yet been analyzed empirically.They are however necessary preconditions in order for propaganda to envelopea radicalizing effect.

The current studies close this gap by focusing on this early stage effects. We ana-lyzed how a non-radicalized audience responds to extremist internet videos. For thefirst time, based on a content analysis of actual right-wing and Islamic extremistInternet videos, our study used state-of-the-art methods from experimental mediapsychology for tracking the emotional and cognitive responses of a broad sampleof 450 young male adults. As expected, we mostly found rejection and neverstrong acceptance for the extremist videos. Still, specific production styles andaudience characteristics were able to cause at least neutral attitudes underpinningthe strategic potential of internet propaganda. In the end, our studies might resultin more questions than answers. However, we are confident that the conceptual aswell as the methodological way chosen is most promising as to approach a deeperunderstanding of the first effects of extremist Internet propaganda.

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