There is an increasing focus by governments and certain concerned civil society initiatives that algorithms might be amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content (TVEC). This focus is a result of empirical evidence suggesting both search and recommendation systems on certain platforms can amplify TVEC, as well as reported accounts of individuals experiencing their first exposure to violent content on social media platforms. However, studies and consequently policy often ignore the role user agency plays in the amplification of this content. This Insight highlights that algorithmic amplification of TVEC is influenced by user agency alongside algorithm design, as users typically get what they seek out online. As such, this Insight explores different online and offline interventions that target influencing factors which may drive users to seek out TVEC, as well as addressing the TVEC itself.
User agency describes the ways in which individuals interact with online spaces through the content they search for, watch, and engage with. This interaction is important to consider, as the internet is centered on a supply-demand basis, where a feedback loop of user preferences and behaviour shapes the online space. Therefore, what users see on social media platforms is a combination of algorithm design as well as how users interact with the systems.