Initially, recruiters identify potential targets by monitoring Facebook conversation threads. Torok said IS recruiters were targeting teenagers online because they were especially vulnerable as they were trying to establish their identities.

They closely observe their target's online behaviour, seeing how frequently they post and how they respond to geopolitical issues, and get to know their hobbies and interests. Then they begin to interact with them, joining in on conversation threads and trying to create a relationship built through common connections.

The recruiter shows empathy when the target reveals emotional problems. They encourage them to talk about their worries and treat them as valid problems. The recruiter then adds the target as a Facebook friend and begins to talk about political issues. To make their arguments sound more believable, the recruiter may assume many different Facebook identities, all of which support their grievances.

The final stage is when recruiters encourage radical recruits to avenge perceived injustices and empower themselves by taking action. "But we need to remember that not all radicals become terrorists and not all terrorists are recruited online," Torok wrote in another article.

The findings were presented recently at a security conference held by Edith Cowan University in Perth.