There is an ongoing need for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to detect and assess online posting behaviours of violent extremists prior to their engagement in violence offline, but little is empirically known about their online behaviours generally or the differences in their behaviours compared to non-violent extremists who share similar ideological beliefs particularly. In this study, we drew from a unique sample of violent and non-violent right-wing extremists (RWEs) to compare their posting behaviours in the largest white supremacy web-forum, Stormfront. We used logistic regression and sensitivity analysis to explore how users’ time of entry into the lifespan of an extremist sub-forum and their cumulative posting activity predicted their violence status. We found a number of significant differences in the posting behaviours of violent and non-violent extremists which may inform future risk factor frameworks used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify credible threats online.
First, we found that non-violent RWE users generally posted more than their violent counterparts. From a policy perspective, this is a noteworthy finding because it suggests that analysts who are searching for violent extremists online as well as credible threats should perhaps be less concerned about investigating high-frequency posters.