Ms. Barakova delivers lecture on 'Social Media and Radicalization in South Asia' during Erasmus+ workshop in Poland
July 2018, Poland
Because of her expertise and research on issues pertaining to radicalization and Terrorism, Ms. Yoana Barakova (Research Analyst of EFSAS) was invited to deliver a workshop on ‘Social Media and Radicalization’ during an Erasmus+ KA1 project in Poland, titled ‘Media Literacy and Critical Reading’. The project was funded by the European Commission and conducted under the aegis of People to People International (PTPI), partners of EFSAS. The audience consisted of youth workers, journalists, students and professionals within the field of media and information technologies from eight EU member countries. During the workshop Ms. Barakova thoroughly described the radicalization phenomenon, especially in South Asia, relying on several theories, which underlined the roots of indoctrination and subsequent engagement with violent extremism. She argued that the process of radicalization has multiple layers, and revealing what is under those layers displays a complex picture, where numerous social factors are involved, such as perceived deprivation, group identity, socio-economic status, political and religious beliefs, motivations and predispositions. She further exemplified how the mass use of Internet and social media has additionally obscured the borders of extremism, facilitating the dissemination of Jihadist beliefs across the globe at a faster pace. As society is currently living in the era of digital technologies, terrorist organizations have also discovered the utility of the Internet when pursuing their objectives since it provides them with the opportunity to collaborate, regroup and lure vulnerable individuals. Such a dynamic milieu has the potential of creating a movement of like-minded people, where individuals easily find supporters with whom to act.
Ms. Yoana Barakova (EFSAS) speaking during the Erasmus+ KA1 project in Poland
Ms. Barakova argued that there is a pressing need for a multi-faceted approach coupled with synchronised media literacy strategies to effectively counter radicalization among the vulnerable populations. She asserted that is pivotal for the mainstream public to gain a thorough understanding about social media’s role in the radicalization process, and the challenges and successes on combating radicalization without compromising Internet related freedoms. Therefore, the development of competent and comprehensive media literacy tools needs to be considered a vital strategy against youth radicalization since the mass media today plays a significant role in forging social representations, conditioning perceptions and shaping people’s attitudes and behaviours. Understanding about the dangers of social media and the Internet is crucial - both to identify the signs of indoctrination and to respond accordingly.
Videos of Ms. Yoana Barakova (EFSAS) during the Erasmus+ KA1 project in Poland