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SPLC analyst briefs New York City Council committee about online radicalization

Lydia Bates, a senior research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, testified before the New York City Council’s Committee on Civil and Human Rights on Nov. 16, 2020, about efforts to reduce the influence of racist and other extremist content online.

“We have known for years that it can be all too easy for individuals to become radicalized without even leaving home,” Bates said. “The proliferation of extremist spaces and content online has created new and powerful avenues for radicalization, especially for young people who are often the targets of radical-right propaganda.”

Her full testimony can be read here.

As part of her testimony, she discussed a guide for parents and caregivers – Building Resilience & Confronting Risk in the COVID-19 Era – produced by the SPLC and American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL).

A recent impact study conducted with nearly 800 participants showed that just seven minutes spent reading the guide significantly improved people’s understanding of radicalization. This resulted in 80% of participants feeling “definitely” or “probably” equipped to intervene in instances of exposure to extremist content.

In the coming months, the PERIL and SPLC partnership will be publishing toolkits to educate specific groups – such as teachers, educators and administrators, as well as youth counselors and therapists – as they seek to provide informed and empathetic support to the young people in their lives.

Photo by Sipa USA via AP