Is your online community a little bit culty? These are the signs

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When Rae was pregnant with her first child, she joined a car seat safety group online for advice.

While helpful information was on offer, the Perth local aged in her 30s describes an “undercurrent of nastiness” led by an “army of cult-like followers” in the group.

She says even people who share¬†they are doing the right thing by law can be “ripped to shreds” and “bombarded with rants and accusations” if a member doesn’t deem it as safe.

We’re not suggesting the group Rae joined is an actual cult.

But there are elements to some online communities that resonate with “total control groups”, explains Martine Kropkowski, a higher¬†degree research candidate at the University of Queensland who is looking at the role language and community-generated narratives play in coercing and controlling members of cult-like organisations.

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