Polarisation and Hate

Hate of all kinds has reached mainstream discussion. ISD is taking action to combat the narratives that pit groups against one another.

Over the past decade, ISD has anticipated and monitored the rise of polarisation by studying the increasing influence of extremist groups peddling “us vs. them” narratives. We have charted the roles that different sectors of society – government, civil society, and the private sector – can play while designing initiatives to leverage and synergise their collective input in combating hate and polarisation.

A broad spectrum of state and non-state actors, including extremist far-right and Islamist groups, have exploited technology and election cycles to exacerbate the recent polarisation afflicting our societies. These forces have divided communities at the local level and political movements at the national level.

The rapid circulation of polarising and hateful ideas on social media has led to a globalisation of hate, exacerbating tensions in developing countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Kenya, often with deadly consequences. Responses to polarisation and hate are often under-resourced, uncoordinated, and too dilatory to limit the damage these malicious actors cause.

ISD delivers a range of programmes to tackle polarisation. Our partnership with Google to deliver a £1m Innovation Fund across the UK has stimulated creative responses from lesser known organisations that have delivered impact in areas such as technology, sports, and the arts.

Our campaign training, delivered through our initiatives such as YouthCAN, have measurably shifted attitudes away from polarisation on issues such as racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and migration.

Finally, we continue to channel our analysis and data into digital policy efforts to inform and advise government and policymakers around the world.

Latest Publications on Polarisation and Hate

Click here for more related ISD Publications

ISD’s Polarisation and Hate Team

Zahed Amanullah
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Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

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Zahed Amanullah
Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

Zahed Amanullah is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD, leading on ISD’s civil society engagement, communications, and partnerships, coordinating the public and private sectors with activists, frontline workers, and relevant civil society networks. He has worked closely with Google.org to support British and European civil society organisations through the Innovation Fund, the Shared Endeavour Fund, and the Google Impact Challenge on Safety. He has given testimony to the UK and European parliaments and has been featured at the BBC, NPR, Channel 4, Sky News, the Guardian, CNN International, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Newsweek, among others. He has co-authored the ISD reports The Impact of Counternarratives, Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections, and The Innovation Fund to Counter Hate and Extremism in the UK. He holds a BS from the University of California, Berkeley and a Diploma in Management from the University of Bath.
Jennie King
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Jennie King

Head of Civic Action and Education

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Jennie King
Jennie King

Head of Civic Action and Education

Jennie King is Head of Civic Action and Education, leading efforts to translate ISD's digital research into frontline programming and response. She co-authored the current 'Be Internet Citizens' curriculum, formally accredited for UK schools, and provides regular briefings for UK government departments and regulators, UNESCO and parallel European/US bodies on systemic approaches to media literacy. Jennie also oversees ISD's growing portfolio on Climate Mis- and Disinformation, supporting a coalition of 30+ organisations worldwide to identify, analyse and counter related harms. Her writing and commentary has been featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4 News, Tortoise Media and NPR, amongst others. Jennie previously served as MENA Regional Director Arts, Assistant Country Director Egypt and Country Director Hungary for the British Council, the UK’s international body for cultural relations. She read Arabic and Spanish at Pembroke College, Cambridge, receiving a Foundation Scholarship and the Marie Shamma’a Frost Prize for Oriental Studies.
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.
Charlotte Moeyens
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Charlotte Moeyens

Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action

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Charlotte Moeyens
Charlotte Moeyens

Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action

Charlotte Moeyens is a Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action, at ISD, sitting in the central Resources and Methods team to support with the collation and distribution of counter-extremism best practice, overseeing the development and international delivery of training modules, materials and resources for practitioners and civil society. She has supported the delivery of the Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety in Europe, Africa Online Safety Fund and Mayor of London’s Shared Endeavour Fund. Most recently, she is working with the McCain Institute to develop and build the capacity of a US Prevention and Intervention Practitioners Network. Charlotte also forms part of the Strong Cities Network's (SCN) Central Management Unit, and is co-author of the SCN's Multi-Agency Models for Preventing Violent Extremism: A Guidebook for Bangladesh, as well as ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism.
Jasmeet Sahotay
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Jasmeet Sahotay

Communications Manager

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Jasmeet Sahotay
Jasmeet Sahotay

Communications Manager

Jasmeet is the Communications Manager for the Strong Cities Network, driving forward the implementation of its new digital communications and branding strategy. He previously steered the development of Young Cities' brand and digital identity, and led YouthCAN's capacity-building of young activists in South Asia, overseeing the launch of 11 counter-narrative campaigns in Pakistan. He is the lead author of the ISD report Voices of Pakistani Youth: Lessons for Civil Society in the Development of Effective Counter-Narrative Campaigns. He holds a Masters in International Law, Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy & Politics from the University of Leeds.
Cécile Simmons
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Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

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Cécile Simmons
Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

Cécile Simmons is a Research Manager at ISD, specialising in malign influence operations targeting elections, public health and climate disinformation, far-right extremism and conspiracy theories. Her research includes social media network mapping, data analysis and ethnographic monitoring of closed online spaces. Her writing and commentary has been featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Wired, among others. She previously worked in publishing and journalism, and holds an MSc in International History from the London School of Economics.