It’s been reported that online gaming is being used to recruit young men into far-right extremist groups.
Figures from a Home Office report show that in the year ending March 2021, there were 4,915 referrals to Prevent (the Government’s anti-extremism programme) due to concerns that an individual was vulnerable to radicalisation. 88 per cent of those were male.
Nearly one in three of the cases passed on to the government’s Channel scheme (which aims to safeguard individuals thought most likely to be radicalised and drawn into terrorist activity) involved far-right extremism.
As reported by The Guardian, Sean Arbuthnot (a Prevent coordinator for Leicestershire) said that while far-right extremism has been on the rise for a number of years, online apps and platforms were increasingly cropping up in referrals, including gaming platforms and chat apps such as Discord, as rightwing groups try to reach young people.
— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) November 19, 2021
It was backed up by comments from Owen Jones, who is director of training and education at the Hope Not Hate. He told The Guardian that the charity was seeing younger students becoming involved in far-right extremism, including boys as young as 13, often using the Telegram messaging app.
Arbuthnot also explained how COVID conspiracy theories play into right-wing extremist recruiting. “If you engage with them on a YouTube platform, and scroll through the comments section, you may then find links to more encrypted chatrooms or extreme right-wing codes or signs and symbols that you may be tempted to research.”
He added: “That’s one of the troubling ways right-wing extremists can play on the fears that have resulted from Covid-19 and conspiracies, to groom, essentially, vulnerable young people in the online space.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, called for improved support for schools in tackling the issues but also wanted platforms to take more action in blocking and removing harmful content.