OVER the last decade or two, the world has undergone a digital transformation. In this time, terrorists and extremists have adapted to the new realities quicker than we have been able to respond. With the introduction and adoption of new digital technologies and platforms, people, both young and old, are spending more and more time online than ever before. With mobile telephony, AI, virtual reality and much more, no longer can we draw a division between online and offline. This division is becoming increasingly porous.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which ceases to abate, has accelerated this transformation and the challenges it poses. Vulnerable audiences are spending more time on news sites, social media channels, video gaming platforms and chat rooms. As a result, they are more easily targeted by terrorists, extremists and other mal actors who proliferate large amounts of disinformation, fake news, conspiracy narratives, extremist propaganda, hate speech and much more. These audiences must discern between what is real and what is fake, what is true and what is false.
As a result, the digital ecosystem is becoming both ever more complex and therefore equally important for practitioners to understand. It is one within which vulnerable audiences spend time, socialise and consume information, within which terrorists and extremists radicalise and recruit, and within which practitioners must do their work.
In this Spotlight, RAN practitioners and experts from outside of the network, share their insights on the digital ecosystem, and their work in addressing some of the digital challenges it presents. This Spotlight includes content on improving the digital literacy of both young people and adults, building their resilience to disinformation and conspiracy narratives, and protecting them against it.
Many of these topics have been addressed by RAN Practitioners through Working Group meetings and other activities in 2021, and will be further explored in 2022. This Spotlight publication captures the highlights from some of these activities and points practitioners to where they can read and find out more.
As always, we want to hear from you! If you would like to contribute to future editions of Spotlight, or if you have ideas for an article, interview or feature, please get in touch with the RAN Practitioners communications team.