'Cultist' Facebook Groups:
Secret Facebook groups ‘cultist’ behaviour indoctrinating members through psychological pressure
Matthew Dunn @mattydunn11
June 5, 2017
The rules stipulate who can be added to the groups and what rules they must follow.
UNTIL this week I was the member of a secret society governed by a stringent set of rules.
The gender-exclusive Facebook group has special rights of membership, its own language and slang, and club outfits that marked out members.
a secret society governed by a stringent set of rules
It was all very Tyler Durden of me.
And just like Fight Club, members of the group are placed under strict instructions to never make mention of its existence to outsiders — doing so would result in being removed and black-listed.
Last week that’s exactly what happened to me after incurring the wrath of the group for breaking the rules.
The leaders decided there was no choice but to have me removed as I had failed to follow an unbreakable rule: #DDTB — meaning “don’t dog the boys” … Oops!
It must be mentioned this type of authoritative behaviour is not limited to the group from which I was excommunicated, with Facebook providing a hive for secret societies to operate.
At any given point in time, there are hundreds of iterations of these groups, each with similar rules dictating what is expected for membership.
These stringent guidelines often include the following:
- If your account has no profile picture, was created in the last three months or looks suspicious, you will not be accepted
- If you tag a member of the opposite sex, you will be banned
- If you report a post you deem inappropriate to Facebook, you will be banned
- If you complain in a comment thread about content instead of scrolling past, you will be blocked
- If you screenshot or share posts made inside the group, you will be kicked out
While these rules might look like they are in place to protect the culture of the hidden Facebook group, there is something much more troubling at play and it has nothing to do with the unsavoury content shared by members.
The rules are in place to keep the vile content of these groups hidden.
These hidden Facebook groups have strict rules for members
According to Ros Hodgkins, president of Australia’s Cult Information and Family Support Service (CIFS), secret social media groups possess “cultist” behaviours.
Ms Hodgkin said beneath the surface members are indoctrinated through psychological pressure to adhere to demands for obedience in regards to the group’s belief system, ideology and practices.
“Information from outside sources is cut off and anything critical of the group is never valid, because they alone have their version of ‘truth’,” she told news.com.au.
“Often implanted within the minds of adherents is that there is something wrong with them if they disagree and are told they aren’t acceptable as a member.”
Ms Hodgkins said minds can be manipulated by a specific set of methods and techniques that influence how a person thinks, feels and acts.
“It becomes destructive when manipulation is used to undermine a person’s ability to act and think independently, and when it disrupts the person’s authentic identity because they can no longer express opinions different from the group or from the leader’s directives,” she said.
“Added to this is rewards and punishments that will be part of the manipulation in a tightly controlled system of logic, where those who dissent or question are made to feel there is something inherently wrong with them.”
Ms Hodgkins said the problem is that many of the people indoctrinated in these groups do not know they have become a part of a cult until it’s too late.
“No one joins a cult, they join a group that they see as having things in common with or that seems to reflect what they consider a helpful benefit to themselves,” she said.
“They are never given all the details about the more extreme beliefs or inner doctrines about what they end up having to do and believe.”
Ms Hodgkins said mind control techniques often lead to the groups developing an us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.
“The groups are extremely worrying because of the behaviour that is most definitely promoting acceptance of violence and physical harm to others that ends with the naming and shaming of others who disagree with promoting anti-social behaviour as normal,” she said.
Do you think secret Facebook groups are like cults? Continue the conversation with Matthew Dunn on Twitter. @mattydunn11
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