26 September 2023

Police line up to warn parents online

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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is urging parents and guardians around the nation to be aware of their children’s online activities as evidence mounts of extremist groups using popular online games to recruit young Aussies.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Counter Terrorism and Special Investigations Command at AFP, Sandra Booth said AFP investigators had seen a concerning trend of members and associates of extremist groups targeting young people to expose them to dangerous content – including violent recreations of actual terrorist events – across online gaming platforms.

Acting AC Booth said spreading extremist content in online gaming platforms was a serious concern for law enforcement Agencies in Australia and around the world.

“We know that nationalist, racist and violent extremist content in online games is almost certainly part of a radicalisation process for some young people,” Acting AC Booth said.

“There are a number of popular games that enable users to create scenarios and record them for others to re-watch and share online across social media,” she said.

“Our concern is extremist groups are exploiting these platforms to target a very young group of Australia’s population, by creating content to share and encourage far-right/extremist ideologies and abhorrent violence against others.”

Acting AC Booth said violent extremist groups had long used social media forums to push their agendas and spread propaganda, but their use of online games was a recent occurrence.

She said parents and guardians could play a significant role in preventing extremist groups from preying on young Australians via online games.

“We encourage parents and guardians to take time to speak to their children, understand the games they may be accessing, what scenarios they may involve and who they may be interacting with in those games,” Acting AC Booth.

“It is critical parents and guardians help their children to understand this extremist ideology and violence online has an impact in the real world and is not, and will not be, tolerated in our society.”

She said the AFP had seen far-right terrorism-related investigations increase from two per cent (prior to 2020) to about 15 per cent in 2022.

“We know individuals involved in extremist activities can come from a diverse range of social backgrounds and can be influenced by a range of complex factors,” Acting AC Booth said.

“Countering these forms of violent extremism requires assistance from not only law enforcement, but from members of the public.”

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