False and unverified claims proliferate online following Trump assassination attempt

Unverified claims about the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump proliferated across social media in the 24 hours following the incident and continue to spread in the absence of more detailed factual information about the shooter. ISD identified the main false claims being promoted and how they mutated and spread across platforms.

Protecting rights and democracy: The road ahead for the new UK government

Issues related to extremism, hate and disinformation were a major focus of the 2024 UK General Election, both on the campaign trail and at the ballot box. This article considers the key threats to rights, public safety and democracy facing the new Labour government, and suggests pathways for policies that address the scale of the challenge.

Indiana livestreamed shooting proliferates on X and Facebook

In May, a man livestreamed what appeared to be an attempted mass shooting at a grocery store in Indiana. ISD identified dozens of versions of the full video on X and Facebook, generating nearly 9 million views in the 48 hours after the incident took place. 

The Houthi (Ansar Allah) Digital Ecosystem

This Dispatch analyses how the Houthi movement leverages social media amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict and Red Sea crisis, exploiting inconsistencies in government designations & platform policies to reach wider online audiences.

The EU AI Act: Insights from the world’s first comprehensive AI law

The EU AI Act (AIA) is the world’s first comprehensive AI regulation that upholds democratic norms and human rights, ensures tech accountability, and prevents the spread of mis- and disinformation and its misuse by bad actors. However, some uncertainties around its implementation and enforcement remain.

Election 2024: A rematch for the fate of US democracy

The US may be on track for a repeat of the 2020 elections, this time with the added complexity of various movements and institutions that have spent years manipulating public discourse and organizing. Is US society prepared?

Why the US needs child safety legislation now

ISD urges for the adoption of robust US regulations, akin to those in the EU, UK and Australia, to establish minimum safety standards for online platforms, safeguarding young users effectively.

Hate united: Neo-Nazi accelerationist support for Hamas 

Neo-Nazi accelerationists have been expressing support for the terrorist group Hamas ever since their October 7 attacks on Israel, converging on shared antisemitic ideologies in an attempt to recruit and radicalize for their own cause.

Islamist groups unite around Israel attack, diverge on Hamas

A broad range of Islamist extremists (including proscribed terrorist groups) have responded to Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel on October 7 and the subsequent Israeli assault on Gaza. Although there was uniform support for the Palestinians and condemnation of Israel, there were also key divergences across this broad spectrum of actors.

Cashing in on conflict: TikTok profits from pro-Kremlin disinformation Ads

New research by ISD reveals TikTok has been profiting from ads that feature pro-Kremlin disinformation and conspiratorial narratives. Ads found via TikTok’s ‘Commercial Content Library’ also included content discrediting Ukraine and Ukrainians while glorifying the Russian invasion, and content that depicted the brutal mercenary Wagner group in a positive light. 

حروب، هروب، و أخبار كاذبة

اثر الحرب في أوكرانيا علينا في كل العالم. وصل الينا الكثير من الأخبار بخصوص هذا الموضوع. وهذا يشمل التقارير المزيفة التي تحاول شحن الأجواء وتحريضنا ضد بعضنا البعض، وإثارة الحسد.

Война, беженство и ложные новости

С помощью кампании #WirStattDesinformation мы хотим противодействовать ложной и искаженной информации, направленной против беженцев из Украины, которые сейчас живут в Германии.

Krieg, Flucht und Falschmeldungen

Mit der Kampagne #WirStattDesinformation möchten wir falschen und manipulierten Inhalten entgegenwirken, die sich gegen in Deutschland lebende ukrainische Geflüchtete richten.

What happens when platforms give up

Big tech companies are shedding teams once built to address mis- and disinformation. With a lack of consensus on addressing the matter at policy- and at tech level, who is the burden going to fall on?

Graphic of person suing computer with news icons

404: RELIABLE INFORMATION NOT FOUND

New ISD research shows Facebook and Twitter are presenting users searching for news about Ukraine with pro-Kremlin material and information from unverified sources.

Xi Jinping in front of Russian and Chinese flags with the letter Q and question marks placed on the top left

QAnon goes to China – via Russia

This Dispatch looks at the shift that appears to be underway in QAnon conspiracy communities as China's president Xi Jinping is recast from villain to hero.

Researchgate

The Problem with Preprints

This Dispatch explores how COVID-19 misinformation and anti-vaccine bias are given the appearance of legitimacy through pre-print research papers that are widely spread online.

January 6th series

This Dispatch series explores notable themes following the Capitol riot, including accountability for big tech, extremists’ digital footprints, and the landscape of election denialism going forward.

A man wearing a black suit and a red superhero cape stares out at a large city from a atop a tall building.

Why did the January 6 Rioters Plot in Plain Sight?

As the Select Committee continues to excavate the mountain of evidence relating to the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, many have wondered why the rioters in the Capitol that day went to such lengths to document and broadcast their own crimes. 

Map of Europe with small Slovakian flag pinned in Slovakia

Online Extremism Index: Slovakia

This Dispatch examines the online threat landscape in Slovakia; one which appears increasingly hybridised as polarising and extreme content emanates from a broad spectrum of actors.

Speech podium with anonymous suited man, with Kenyan flag in background

Online Extremism Index: Kenya

In this ‘Online Extremism Index’ Dispatches, ISD analyses polarising content and hate speech online in Kenya ahead of the country’s 2022 general elections.

Gen-Z & The Digital Salafi Ecosystem

Gen-Z & The Digital Salafi Ecosystem

An overview of ISD’s pioneering new research which provides a digital snapshot of the rapidly shifting online Salafi ecosystem across social media and its intersection with Gen-Z identities.

Broken COVID-19 mask and vaccine

The Threat of Conspiratorial COVID-Sceptic Extremism

Elise Thomas observes the move towards extremism amongst Australian and New Zealand anti-lockdown movements, explaining why referring to them simply as ‘far-right’ misses important pieces of the story.   

‘The Future of Extremism’ Series

An overview of ISD's upcoming The Future of Extremism series: an ambitious programme of data-driven publications, thought-leading analysis and public events focused on the next generation of extremism challenges and responses.

The International Interplay of Online Extremism in New Zealand

The 2019 Christchurch attacks stand as an instructive example of an increasingly international far-right. This Dispatch examines online extremism in New Zealand, drawing on ISD research conducted throughout 2020 which provides a data-driven snapshot of New Zealand’s online extremist ecosystem. 

Online Extremism Index: Bangladesh

As part of the Strong Cities Network’s programme of ongoing research, ISD analysts mapped and analysed the online extremist landscape in Bangladesh. This Dispatch looks at their findings.

Ten Years On – The Enduring Legacy of the 2011 Oslo Attacks

It has been a decade since the 2011 terror attacks in Oslo, considered by many to be a “turning point” in far right extremist mobilisation. This Dispatch outlines the ways in which the ideas, tactics and dynamics underpinning the attack have come to shape one of the most persistent and dangerous terror threats we are seeing today.

How TikTok Sounds Are Used to Fuel Anti-Vaccine Fears

Ciarán O'Connor writes about how TikTok Sounds are being used to create and popularise misleading and harmful COVID-19 related content on the platform, in particular discouraging people against getting vaccinated.

Austrian and Swiss Influence in the German Conspiracy Sphere

This dispatch examines the most widely shared internet domains amongst online anti-vaccination communities in Germany. It illustrates the high level of influence Austrian and Swiss disinformation outlets appear to hold in the German-speaking online sphere of conspiracy narratives.

The Coal Debate in Poland: Key Trends on Social Media

In Poland, climate change is largely absent from the online discussion around coal mining and the energy sector, which is instead dominated by economic and security arguments in favour of, and in opposition to, the coal industry. This dispatch highlights the key trends in such discussion, as well as the types of messaging different actors employ.

The Islamic State’s Imagined Community

This Dispatch looks at the links between the largest online archive of Islamic State materials and a real-world IS case. It raises a set of policy considerations for managing online contingents of movements like the Islamic State and disrupting the creation and management of such archives.

Archiving the Islamic State in Real Time

New analysis by ISD and CTC focuses on Islamic State-affiliated content stored on digital archives, and the method of creating hubs of information to preserve such materials. Such research reveals one small part of the movement’s ongoing efforts to document its path to stay relevant in the future.

A Snapshot of Far-Right Activity on Gab in Australia

New analysis by researchers at ISD and the Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities at Victoria University analyses the interplay between far-right and far-left groups in the state of Victoria, Australia on the alt-tech social networking platform Gab.

COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Monitor: The Netherlands

In the online world, conspiracies and misinformation are often used to downplay the severity of the coronavirus, undermine efforts to tackle its spread and promote anxieties about the vaccine. This briefing examines how Dutch communities on Facebook promoted COVID-19 vaccine misinformation throughout April.

Climate is the New Front in the Culture Wars

The far right has stoked up fear of immigration, elites, and multiculturalism. Now, extremists are turning their attention online to the alleged threat of the green agenda – with an eye to discrediting COP-26.

Amazon’s Algorithms, Conspiracy Theories and Extremist Literature

The role of algorithms in boosting conspiracy theories and radicalisation has been brought into sharp focus over the past year. Using Amazon’s book sales platform, Elise Thomas illustrates how such problems with algorithmic recommendation extend far beyond social media platforms.

COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Monitor: MENA

Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines are rampant across Arabic-language Facebook entities. Recent analysis by ISD has found connections to dominant COVID-19 vaccine misinformation narratives and influencers tied to the Middle East and North Africa's geo-politics.

The Salience of Climate Issues in the German State Elections

Ahead of the German state elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz, ISD analysts examined climate-related discussion on social media. The goal was to interrogate how social media drives climate-related debate during an election period,.

COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Monitor: Canada

In Canada, protests against COVID-19 restrictions fuelled by conspiracies and misinformation have generated anger and hostility. This briefing takes a closer look at Canadian communities who were promoting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation throughout February.

COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Monitor: Ireland

In recent months, clashes at anti-lockdown protests have shown how online vitriol can lead to offline violence. We take a look at the nature of some of this online vitriol in Ireland throughout January - and find that Irish COVID-19 vaccine misinformation communities on Facebook are on the rise.

COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Monitor

The same social media tools being used to inform the public about COVID-19 vaccinations are also being used to misinform people on a massive scale. Throughout 2021, Digital Dispatches will examine key COVID-19 vaccine misinformation themes in different countries.

The Long Road to the Capitol: Laying the Groundwork

This is the first in a three-part Digital Dispatches series that looks back at how a year of online extremist mobilisation precipitated a violent assault on the heart of American democracy on January 6 2021.

Narratives of Violence around the 2020 Presidential Election

Donald Trump’s use of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric as a means through which to govern and campaign is longstanding, but it arguably reached its apex with his 2020 re-election bid – the consequences of which are both severe and growing.   

Why Voter Fraud Narratives Remain Persistent

The importance of pushing back against misleading and false narratives in their early stages was made clear in the midst of the 2020 US presidential election, when efforts to debunk mainstreamed voter fraud narratives instead ran the risk of amplifying the narratives further.

The Travels of Far-Right Narratives through Online-Media Ecosystems

New research by ISD tracks far-right narratives from the US, France and Germany, looking at how such narratives gain traction in domestic mainstream media and exploring if and how narratives move from the far-right’s online media ecosystem to different geographical and political contexts.

When it Comes to Political Messaging, do Opposites Attract?

How do the far-right and far-left discuss each other on Facebook? How do narratives about the other side of the political spectrum shape the online activity of these groups? An analysis of the far-right and far-left Facebook ecosystem in Australia looks at how central discussion of the ‘other side’ is to each movement.

The Dominion Voting Systems Election Narrative: Going Viral

When Donald Trump retweeted a post claiming that Dominion Voting Systems had partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative to deliberately switch ballots intended for Trump to Joe Biden, a narrative of election rigging began that would spread online, and which will likely resurface again.

The Dominion Voting Systems Election Narrative: Beginnings

A tweet baselessly claimed that Dominion Voting Systems had partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative to switch ballots intended for Trump to Joe Biden. It was the peak of a narrative combining technology and corruption concerns with the need to explain Trump’s increasingly apparent election defeat.

The ‘Content Blitz’: Social Media Response Times to Terrorist Content

ISIS continues to deploy social media recruitment strategies when opportunities arise. In an effort to understand each social media platform’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of striking terrorist content off their platforms, ISD timed platforms' takedowns of content egregiously violating their policies.

Online Reactions of the Far-Right to the Far-Left

On 31 May 2020, President Trump tweeted that the far-left network Antifa would be designated a “Terrorist Organization.” ISD researchers monitored the reactions to Trump’s tweet by far-right actors online.

The Shifting Conversation around Antifa

ISD researchers conducted a long-term analysis of conversations around the loose network of far-left organisations known as Antifa between January 2019 and June 2020.