Study of Google search histories reveals relationship between anti-Muslim and pro-ISIS sentiment in U.S.

June 7, 2018 by Bob Yirka, report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A trio of researchers from Duke University and the University of California has found that Google search data can offer insights into the relationship between anti-Muslim and pro-ISIS sentiment in the U.S. In their paper published on the open access site Science Advances, Christopher Bail, Friedolin Merhout and Peng Ding discuss their study and what they found.

In the modern age, as travel and technology have improved, has become a major threat. Because of that, those in charge of protecting people from terrorism have instituted policies and defense mechanisms. Sometimes, the researchers note, those policies involve targeting groups for special investigation. It is no secret that Muslims are the most highly targeted group because of the connection between Islam and groups such as the Taliban and ISIS. But, the researchers suggest, targeting groups in countries such as the U.S. might be causing home-grown to occur.

To learn more about radicalization of Muslim extremists in the U.S., the researchers accessed publicly available data from Google engine queries. Queries, they noted, can be done looking for phrases such as "I hate Muslims" or "How do I join ISIS?" Data from the searches was then cross-checked with data provided by the U.S. Census, allowing the researchers to see where those searches were coming from at the community level.

The researchers found a common theme—in low income communities where there were a lot of anti-Muslim searches, there were also a lot of searches by people looking for more information about radical Islamic groups. Such communities, the further noted, tended to be homogeneous in nature, mostly white, with few people of color. People from the Middle East, they point out, stand out in such communities. This finding, they claim, suggests that anti-Muslim activities such as discrimination and being targeted by government officials might actually be pushing some of those targeted people toward becoming extremists. They suggest that if the goal is to slow or stop radicalization of people living in the U.S., another approach might be needed. They also point out that evidence from other studies has shown that assimilation tends to lead to reduced radicalization.

Explore further: Are current efforts to combat terrorism actually increasing the risk of future attacks?

More information: Christopher A. Bail et al. Using Internet search data to examine the relationship between anti-Muslim and pro-ISIS sentiment in U.S. counties, Science Advances (2018). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao5948

Recent terrorist attacks by first- and second-generation immigrants in the United States and Europe indicate that radicalization may result from the failure of ethnic integration—or the rise of intergroup prejudice in communities where "home-grown" extremists are raised. Yet, these community-level drivers are notoriously difficult to study because public opinion surveys provide biased measures of both prejudice and radicalization. We examine the relationship between anti-Muslim and pro-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) Internet searches in 3099 U.S. counties between 2014 and 2016 using instrumental variable models that control for various community-level factors associated with radicalization. We find that anti-Muslim searches are strongly associated with pro-ISIS searches—particularly in communities with high levels of poverty and ethnic homogeneity. Although more research is needed to verify the causal nature of this relationship, this finding suggests that minority groups may be more susceptible to radicalization if they experience discrimination in settings where they are isolated and therefore highly visible—or in communities where they compete with majority groups for limited financial resources. We evaluate the validity of our findings using several other data sources and discuss the implications of our findings for the study of terrorism and intergroup relations, as well as immigration and counterterrorism policies.

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4 / 5 (4) Jun 07, 2018
The idea that terrorists exist because we are looking for them is as silly and dangerous as the idea that criminals exist because we are arresting them. Silly yes but it is exactly the logic being used by the BLM movement. If they hadn't tried to arrest Michael Brown or Eric Garner or even Sandra Bland they would still be alive today.

This is the kind of logic favored by drug gangs, al shabab, and oddly enough by the democratic party. It is the logic behind sanctuary cities and isolationism.

The study seems to imply with similar logic that radicalization is occurring in response to bigotry in white ethnic communities. But according to "The American Muslim Response to Hearings on Radicalization
within their Community"
June 20, 2012

-it is taking place within moslem communities centered around radical mosques, and in prisons, where large cohesive groups can offer tribal reinforcement and isolation from society.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2018
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 07, 2018
You altright fairytails teach fear and hate. Then you whine like little bitches when your students graduate to acting out your teachings.

As for those 'radical "muslim" groups. Whenever you can stop kissing the Saudi's silk slippers? You might beg your Riyadh masters to answer why they finance alqueda and isis?

Well, if you ever purchase a set of testicles sufficient to stand up to them!
not rated yet Jun 07, 2018
This is a nice example of cherry picking of data in the sake of ransom propaganda: "if you wouldn't pay for Muslim immigrants, they will get radicalized". What's so strange about fact, that when fame of ISIS culminated, the people googled the ways how to join to it in the same time, when another people expressed their fear from Muslims? Now these people still fear of Islam - but no one looks for recruiting to ISS anymore. Why this relation is not relevant for this study by now? Because it would show, it pays to say no the ransom demands?
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 07, 2018
Almost 20 percent of Americans would deny Muslims who are American citizens the right to vote. Why the U.S. is dead set against communism and Islams should be tolerated? Both ideologies are antiliberal and expansionist in the same way?
Thorium Boy
3 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2018
Wow! You murder 3400 people and you trigger some to become radicalized? Gee how profound!
3 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2018
Almost 20 percent of Americans would deny Muslims who are American citizens the right to vote. Why the U.S. is dead set against communism and Islams should be tolerated? Both ideologies are antiliberal and expansionist in the same way?
"The fear was that Catholics could not be citizens of a democracy because they owed fealty to a foreign sovereign, the "Pope in Rome..." - 'The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History'

-And how hard do you think it would be to find similar such examples of tribalism in the history of your own country?
not rated yet Jun 08, 2018
In general, once someone argues with reference to past (the Putin's propaganda does it routinely: "Russia WILL do whatever it wants, because USA DID it too"), then he is probably retarded (no offense - this is just a technical term for negative bias in time arrow). The problem of your reference to history is just the pointing to medieval thinking of Islamists. Religion and tribalism can be useful until you have no better social glue and the Muslims know it best - but we in Europe already did grow from it. The arguing with past leads to regression.
not rated yet Jun 09, 2018
Study says paying terrorist kidnappers doesn't pay off. Countries that negotiated with terrorists to release hostages faced up to 87 percent more kidnappings than those that did not pay ransoms
not rated yet Jun 09, 2018
someone argues with reference to past
Well you referenced communism, which we haven't feared since the 80s. What - China? Chinese communism isn't the problem - chinese capitalist economic aggression is what we fear.
Religion and tribalism ... the Muslims know it best
Right - they do know it best. Virulent tribalism means inevitable social and reproductive aggression. Which certainly is something to fear.
but we in Europe already did grow from it
-You mean grow out of it? Which explains why you have tolerated floods of refugees until recently?

Tribalism is an integral part of the genome. And conspicuous muslim displays of tribal unity and aggression inevitably provoke a tribal response.

Compare weimar progressive egalitarianism with the explosive rise of NSDAP only a few years later for a more recent example than Catholics in the US.

You can fear tribalist aggression or you can fear your tribalist response to it. Both are inevitable.
not rated yet Jun 09, 2018
Chinese communism isn't the problem - Chinese capitalist economic aggression is what we fear.
The nontransparent centralist control, censorship and bribery is still the problem - for every country affected by it, not just for China. Thought in certain aspects it could get more flexible than the incompetent oversized democracy.
not rated yet Jun 09, 2018
It's also not difficult to spot, that the colonist strategy of East-Asia and African immigrants wouldn't pass the free market and democracy rules of Western Europe, if only its government wouldn't maintain it artificially. These immigrants are too easy to spot and too easy to send back for to ignore the fact, they're actually drawn in Europe by EU centralist government. In normal multilevel democracy something like this would never happen. The immigrant crisis is not result of "suicidal tendencies" of Western democracy, but of its systematical avoidance by unelected government from Brussels.
not rated yet Jun 09, 2018
That is to say, I'm not xenophobe and principally against immigration, once it's advantageous for both parties. In particular, the economic power of USA after WWWII was based on brain influx of highly qualified immigrants, who also got new opportunities in their new host country. But the condition of bilateral advantage is not fulfilled in current influx of immigrants, who cannot work and who survive only on welfare. This is economical nonsense and perverted incentive.

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