According to a document released by the Spanish EU Council Presidency earlier this week, the risk of online radicalisation is growing rapidly, with minors being particularly vulnerable.
Teenagers and more adults are spending more time than ever online, and terrorist groups have increased their presence on platforms to target them.
The document, which was sent to the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) and the Council. talks about the threat of minors being manipulated by terrorist organisations, as well as calling for more action to quickly address the issue.
One issue the document highlights is that, as noted in Europol’s 2022 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, terrorist groups are now using strategies like “designing their communication strategies to attract younger audiences”.
In the document, it’s also pointed out that the involvement of minors between 13 and 17 in EU terrorist attacks and other activities increased in recent years.
The Spanish presidency says that “it is necessary to have an accurate and up-to-date understanding of the threat, to engage the relevant actors and to adopt the right strategies and tools to prevent and respond quickly and effectively to this threat”.
However, the document also says that there’s “there is no single profile of a radicalised minor”, which makes the issue even more challenging to address. However, boys and young men were more likely to be targets and a common factor was psychological and social issues.
The presidency said that there had been “significant efforts and progress” by the Commission and EU governments, which have strengthened the EU’s overall response.
For example, the Radicalisation Awareness Network and the European Internet Forum (EUIF) have played a role in prevention and education while involving members of the digital industry. The Digital Services Act could also play a key role in tackling the problem in the coming years.
The document adds: “It would be advisable to reach a consensus within the European Union on the delimitation of content considered legal but harmful. In the context of the Digital Services Act to strengthen guidance to industry and support prevention.”
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