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Combining Social Network Analysis and Sentiment Analysis to Explore the Potential for Online Radicalisation

Adam Bermingham & Maura Conway & Lisa McInerney & Neil O’Hare & Alan Smeaton

The increased online presence of jihadists has raised the possibility of individuals being radicalised via the Internet. To date, the study of violent radicalisation has focused on dedicated jihadist websites and forums. This may not be the ideal starting point for such research, as participants in these venues may be described as “already made up minds”. Crawling a global social networking platform, such as YouTube, on the other hand, has the potential to unearth content and interaction aimed at radicalisation of those with little or no apparent prior interest in violent jihadism. This research explores whether such an approach is indeed fruitful. We collected a large dataset from a group within YouTube that we identified as potentially having a radicalising agenda. We analysed this data using social network analysis and sentiment analysis tools, examining the topics discussed and what the sentiment polarity (positive or negative) is towards these topics. In particular, we focus on gender differences in this group of users, suggesting most extreme and less tolerant views among female users.

Resource published 2009