Experts argue that the internet has provided expanded opportunities for violent extremist groups to propagandize and recruit. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is an exemplar in that it has heavily invested in an online presence and uses online communities and social media to attract and retain supporters. Does ISIS’s online presence translate into a higher probability that individuals in its target audience will become supporters? In this study we analyze over 6,000 individuals in six Arab countries to find if those that use the internet to follow political news or to express political views are more likely to support ISIS. We find that respondents who get their news online are significantly more likely to support ISIS than those who follow the news on television or print media. Moreover, those who use online fora for political expression are also more likely to express support for ISIS. Indeed, individuals who engage in online political discussion are more likely to support ISIS than those who engage in conventional political activity, though less than those who engage in contentious political behaviors such as attending a political protest. We conclude with a brief discussion of the academic and policy implications of these findings.
Piazza, James A. and Ahmet Guler. 2019. "The Online Caliphate: Internet Usage and ISIS Support in the Arab World." Terrorism and Political Violence (May). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09546553.2019.1606801