Far-Right Extremism

ISD monitors and analyses trends in far-right radicalisation, manipulation and intimidation in order to power a global response

Against the backdrop of rising far-right radicalisation and polarisation, and a surge in xenophobic and anti-democratic movements across Western countries, ISD provides cutting-edge analysis and insights into international, national and regional far-right activities.

For over a decade, ISD has conducted research on the push and pull factors of far-right extremists, the spread of hate and disinformation, reciprocal radicalisation dynamics between far-right and Islamist and well as far-right far-left movements and the international connections between far-right groups.

Pioneering on and offline interventions
Following the Against Violent Extremism summit in Dublin, Ireland, in 2011, ISD managed the Against Violent Extremism (AVE) network of former extremists, survivors of extremist violence. The AVE network is the largest such network in the world, leveraging the lessons, experiences and connections of individuals who have dealt first-hand with extremism. The unique experiences of AVE members from the far-right has enabled them to push back against extremist narratives and prevent the radicalisation of others.

In 2014, ISD launched the FREE Initiative, the first pan-European resource to offer practical guidance on countering far-right extremism across Europe. FREE Initiative resources were designed to inspire and promote cross-border learning, showcasing the good work that is being done across Europe to prevent, intervene and respond. The FREE initiative followed work by ISD from 2012 to 2014 in partnership with the Swedish Ministry of Justice to enhance understanding of what works in preventing and countering far-right extremism across 10 countries where the FREE Initiative operates: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In 2015, ISD’s One to One initiative (now Counter Conversations) used a peer-to-peer messaging approach to engage potential recruits on social media in order to dissuade and disengage them. Using digital tools which utilise publicly available information, ISD maps and locates users expressing extremist sentiment online. Our intervention providers, including former far-right extremists from ISD’s AVE network, then engage identified individuals in constructive, personalised online conversations, offering a positive alternative and deterring them from joining violent extremist groups. A second phase study, Counter Conversations, was released in 2018.

In 2016, ISD pioneered the use of counternarrative messaging online to intervene with those perceived to be at risk for far-right radicalisation. Working with groups like Life After Hate, campaigns successfully promoted online engagement with target audiences. One campaign in particular led to messaging from eight individuals asking for assistance in leaving far-right organisations. The results were published in ISD’s report, “The Impact of Counternarratives” and led to a private briefing at the White House.

Monitoring online propaganda and recruitment
Using our digital analytics tools and ethnographic research, our far-right analysts monitor anti-Muslim, antisemitic, anti-immigrant, misogynist and anti-LGBTQ+ movements across Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia. We assess the latest trends in far-right radicalisation, manipulation and intimidation strategies – including fairly recent phenomena such as doxxing, trolling and gamified recruitment.

ISD’s online research looks at both mainstream platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, as well as alternative tech platforms such as 4Chan, 8Chan, Reddit, Voat, Gab, Minds and BitChute. We are also monitoring fringe extremist websites such as the Daily Stormer, Stormfront and AltRight.com and encrypted messaging apps such as Discord and Telegram. Our research team’s language capabilities allow us to monitor channels in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Polish.

Based on our far-right analysis and research, we have briefed and advised a range of national and regional policymakers, ministries and security and intelligence agencies on the latest trends in online and offline extremism. Our research and analysis features across major international and national news outlets and informs our engagement with tech firms and civil society.

Far-right research publications

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ISD’s Far-right research team

Jacob Davey
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Jacob Davey

Head of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate Movements

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Jacob Davey
Jacob Davey

Head of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate Movements

Jacob Davey is Head of Research & Policy for Far-right and Hate Movements at ISD. Jacob has managed projects focusing on online hate speech, the international far-right and political violence. He has led a number of projects piloting novel models for identifying extremist conversation and hate speech online, including analysis tracking hate groups in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, and is currently leading a major programme of work mitigating hate threats in the US. He has advised national and local policymakers on right-wing extremism, including the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. Jacob has managed and co-authored numerous ISD reports including Between Conspiracy and Extremism: A Long COVID Threat?, ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series, and A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram.
Henry Tuck
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Henry Tuck

Head of Digital Policy

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Henry Tuck
Henry Tuck

Head of Digital Policy

Henry Tuck is the Head of Digital Policy at ISD, where he leads Advisory work on digital regulation and tech company responses to terrorism, extremism, hate and dis/misinformation online. Henry oversees ISD’s Digital Policy Lab (DPL) and engagement on key digital regulation proposals in Europe and Five Eyes countries, advises key governments, international organisations and major private sector tech companies, and collaborates with ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit to translate research into actionable digital policy recommendations. Having joined ISD in 2013, Henry has previously worked across a variety of ISD’s Analysis and Action programmes, including education, on- and offline counter-extremism interventions, and civil society networks. Henry holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from Kings College London, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Durham University. 
Till Baaken
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Till Baaken

Senior Manager, Projects and Development, ISD Germany

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Till Baaken
Till Baaken

Senior Manager, Projects and Development, ISD Germany

Till Baaken is a Senior Projects and Development Manager at ISD Germany, focusing on right-wing extremism and Islamism as well as disinformation and conspiracy theories in German-speaking and English-speaking countries. His articles have been published in a range of publications, including the Journal for Deradicalization and the International Journal of Conflict and Violence. He has also contributed to several books and handbooks on radicalisation and de-radicalisation. He is the co-author of the ISD reports Disinformation Overdose: A study of the Crisis of Trust among Vaccine Sceptics and Anti-Vaxxers, Fluchtwege. Wie das Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz auf etablierten sozialen Medien durch die Verlinkung zu alternativen Plattformen umgangen wird and Wegweiser – Hintergrundbericht für das Projekt »Radikalisierung in rechtsextremen Onlinesubkulturen entgegentreten«. Till holds an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London.
Jakob Guhl
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Jakob Guhl

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

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Jakob Guhl
Jakob Guhl

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

Jakob Guhl is a Senior Manager, Policy & Research, at ISD, where he works within the Digital Research Unit and with ISD Germany. His research focuses on the far-right, Islamist extremism, hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories. Jakob is a frequent commentator on German radio and broadcast and has been invited to present his research on online hate to the German Ministry of the Justice and provided evidence to the German Minister of the Interior and the German Family Minister on how to strengthen prevention against right-wing extremism and antisemitism. His research has been featured in Die Zeit, The Guardian, DW, The Telegraph, CNN, Euronews, Coda Story, Vice, Politico, New Republic and Die Welt, among others. Additionally, he has published articles in the “Journal for Deradicalisation”, “Demokratie gegen Menschenfeindlichkeit”, Taz, Der Standard, New Statesman and GNET, and contributed to edited volumes about antisemitism on social media, conspiracy theories and the origins of contemporary political anger. He is the co-author of the ISD reports Researching the Evolving Online Ecosystem: Barriers, Methods and Future Challenges, Gen-Z & The Digital Salafi Ecosystem, Crisis and Loss of Control: German-Language Digital Extremism in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hosting the ‘Holohoax’: A Snapshot of Holocaust Denial Across Social Media, A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram and The Online Ecosystem of the German Far-Right. Jakob holds an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London.
Ciarán O’Connor
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Ciarán O’Connor

Senior Analyst

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Ciarán O’Connor
Ciarán O’Connor

Senior Analyst

Ciarán O’Connor is a Senior Analyst at ISD, working in the Research and Policy unit. Ciarán specialises in using open-source research to track and monitor disinformation and extremism online, with a particular focus on far-right activity and communication across open and closed networks and platforms. Ciarán is currently working on multiple ISD projects in analysing the intersection of misinformation and extremism with COVID-19 on social media. Ciarán previously worked as a journalist on the investigations team at Storyful, a social media news agency that specialises in the verification and analysis of amateur footage and misinformation online. He is the co-author of ISD reports The Boom Before the Ban: QAnon and Facebook and Disinformation briefing: Narratives around Black Lives Matter and voter fraud.
Aoife Gallagher
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Aoife Gallagher

Analyst

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Aoife Gallagher
Aoife Gallagher

Analyst

Aoife Gallagher is an Analyst on ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit, focusing on the intersection between far-right extremism, disinformation and conspiracy theories and using a mixture of data analysis, open source intelligence and investigative techniques to understand the online ecosystem where these ideas flourish and spread. Previously, Aoife was a journalist with the online news agency, Storyful. She is co-author of the ISD reports The Genesis of a Conspiracy Theory and Profit and Protest: How Facebook is struggling to enforce limits on ads spreading hate, lies and scams about the Black Lives Matter protests. Aoife has completed an MA in Journalism.
Lea Gerster
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Lea Gerster

Analyst

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Lea Gerster
Lea Gerster

Analyst

Lea Gerster is an Analyst at ISD and ISD Germany. She works across a range of projects focused on the proliferation of extremist ideologies and disinformation in the English- and German-speaking part of the internet. Previously, Lea worked for two years in online extremism-related roles at TRD Policy and the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism. She also worked as an intern for the Swiss foreign office and as a volunteer at a Japanese tea farm. She is the co-author of the ISD report Crisis and Loss of Control: German-Language Digital Extremism in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic. She holds an MA War Studies from King’s College London and a BA in history, Japan studies, and political sciences.
Dominik Hammer
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Dominik Hammer

Research Manager, ISD Germany

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Dominik Hammer
Dominik Hammer

Research Manager, ISD Germany

Dominik Hammer is a Research Manager at ISD Germany. Dominik focuses on the analysis of far-right online activities with an emphasis on qualitative research. Dominik’s prior research focused on democratic theory, the strengthening of democratic praxis and the analysis of antidemocratic movements. Dominik holds a MA in Political Science from the Dresden University of Technology and a BA in Governance and Public Policy from the University of Passau. He is currently working on his PhD in Political Theory.
Paula Matlach
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Paula Matlach

Analyst

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Paula Matlach
Paula Matlach

Analyst

Paula Matlach is an Analyst at ISD. She studies the spread of disinformation and propaganda in German and English-speaking countries. Prior to her work at ISD, she worked as a researcher at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, where she published articles on network regulation and foreign influence, among other topics. At ISD, she has co-authored the research report „Fluchtwege. Wie das Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz auf etablierten sozialen Medien durch die Verlinkung zu alternativen Plattformen umgangen wird“. 
Christian Schwieter
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Christian Schwieter

Project Manager, Policy and Research, ISD Germany

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Christian Schwieter
Christian Schwieter

Project Manager, Policy and Research, ISD Germany

Christian Schwieter is a Project Manager at ISD Germany, leading the German-language research project on far-right activity on alternative and emerging online platforms. At ISD, Christian also co-led the pilot phase of the Digital Policy Lab, a new intergovernmental working group focused on charting the online policy path forward to prevent and counter disinformation, hate speech and extremism. Previously, Christian worked as a researcher for the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, where he co-authored reports on state-backed information operations relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, Christian was the Specialist Adviser on Disinformation Matters for the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee at the House of Commons. Christian holds an MSc in Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford and a BA from Leiden University College The Hague.
Julia Ebner
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Julia Ebner

Senior Research Fellow

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Julia Ebner
Julia Ebner

Senior Research Fellow

Julia Ebner is a Senior Research Fellow at ISD, specialising in far-right extremism, reciprocal radicalisation, viral disinformation, conspiracy myths and terrorism prevention. Julia advises parliamentary working groups, security agencies and tech firms, and delivers lectures in schools and universities. She acted as a consultant on counter-terrorism for the United Nations. To bring her research findings to wider audiences, Julia regularly writes for newspapers such as the Guardian, Washington Post and Süddeutsche and has appeared on the BBC, Channel 4, CNN, ZDF, ARD, France24 and others.
She is the author of The Rage: The Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far-Right Extremism, which won the Bruno Kreisky Award for the Political Book of the Year 2018. Her second book Going Dark: The Secret Social Lives of Extremists was an international bestseller and has been translated into seven languages. It won the award 'Wissenschaftsbuch des Jahres 2020' (Science Book of the Year 2020) and was long listed for the Gold Dagger Award.
Julia co-authored a range of ISD reports, including The Online Ecosystem of the German Far-RightThe Great Replacement: The Violent Consequences of Mainstreamed ExtremismMainstreaming Mussolini – How the Extreme Right Attempted to ‘Make Italy Great Again’ in the 2018 Italian ElectionThe Fringe Insurgency – Connectivity, Convergence and Mainstreaming of the Extreme Right, and Hate at the push of a button.
She is currently completing her DPhil in Anthropology at Oxford University, where she is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion and a scholarship holder of the ESRC and St John's College. She holds an MSc (Dist) in International History from London School of Economics and an MSc (Dist) in International Relations from Peking University. Julia completed her undergraduate studies with a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and a BSc in International Business.​