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Technological Seduction and Self-Radicalization

  • MARK ALFANO (a1), J. ADAM CARTER (a2) and MARC CHEONG (a3)

Abstract

Many scholars agree that the Internet plays a pivotal role in self-radicalization, which can lead to behaviors ranging from lone-wolf terrorism to participation in white nationalist rallies to mundane bigotry and voting for extremist candidates. However, the mechanisms by which the Internet facilitates self-radicalization are disputed; some fault the individuals who end up self-radicalized, while others lay the blame on the technology itself. In this paper, we explore the role played by technological design decisions in online self-radicalization in its myriad guises, encompassing extreme as well as more mundane forms. We begin by characterizing the phenomenon of technological seduction. Next, we distinguish between top-down seduction and bottom-up seduction. We then situate both forms of technological seduction within the theoretical model of dynamical systems theory. We conclude by articulating strategies for combating online self-radicalization.

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