What is it: People who have been radicalised to believe certain things may decide to help spread disinformation if they believe it will help their cause (for example pushing incorrect election information to particular demographics), or may fervently promote misinformation which they believe to be true (using our go-to least inflamatory debate example; people misinformed to believe that putting pineapple on pizza is a sign of sexual deviance may go on to convince other people of this incorrect information).
Deradicalisation programmes “seek to address the ideological, social, and personal issues that led someone to become involved in … extremism.”
Why they do it: Deradicalisation can help reduce the probability that people will participate in the spread of inauthentic or incorrect content. Some disinformation has the objective of pushing illegitimate narratives about groups in order to push radical opposition of said groups. As such, deredicalisation can also help reduce the Impact of disinformation.
How they do it: I am not an expert on deradicalisation. It seems like quite a good thing to do though, and I’d like to learn more from experts in the field. At the moment I’m just starting my journey learning about it, but I’d like to be able to come back here and give a short summary of ‘how they do it’. I feel that there may be some disconnect between the deradicalisation required for people considering extreme kinetic acts (e.g. shootings), and those who fervently spread misinformation online (e.g. QAnon believers); this is something I’d like to understand better.
In the meantime, these are some resources I have found to start me off on my learning journey. If you’re looking for similar resources, you might like to look at these:
Area of focus: White Supremacy. In this video Christian Picciolini talks about his journey into leading a White Supramacist group in America, how he got out of the movement, and how he continues to help deradicalise others who have similar experiences.
Area of focus: Religious Extremism. In this video Megan Phelps-Roper talks about her experience of deradicalisation after having been raised as part of the Westboro Baptist Church, and gives steps for maximising the probability of successfully deradicalising people you may interact with.
Megan has also written a book about her lived experience of being raised as part of the Westboro Baptist Church, detailing her journey before and after her deradicalisation and departure.
This article provides an introduction to deradicalisation and some background to its usage in the United Kingdom.
This guide provides a more in-depth introduction to the methods used in deradicalisation programs.