A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram

Authors: Jakob Guhl and Jacob Davey

For this research, ISD’s digital analysis unit have been monitoring a network of 208 channels distributing white supremacist content on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram. In an analysis of over a million posts, this briefing unpacks how the platform is being used to glorify terrorism, call for violence, spread extremist ideological material and demonise minority groups.

The briefing highlights how through its limited content moderation policies Telegram has become a safe space for white supremacists to share and discuss a range of explicit extremist material. Furthermore, it shows that through the many of these Telegram communities have become permissive environments where overt calls for violence and support for terrorism is widespread. Much of the content which we have identified appears to breach Telegram’s terms of service which prohibit the promotion of violence, suggesting that the platform’s current enforcement of its policies is not effective.

The egregious nature of content shared on Telegram coupled with the relatively open nature of the platform means that the risk posed by the platform as a hub for violent mobilisation should be carefully considered. Due to the scale of violent and pro-terrorist content which we identified in this study, ISD believes that an ‘early warning system’ which facilitates the semi-automated identification of high-risk content should be trialled in order to detect and mitigate calls for violence emanating from these channels.“

Bankrolling Bigotry: An overview of the Online Funding Strategies of American Hate Groups

Hatred is surging across the United States, threatening the safety, security and wellbeing of minority communities, and societal harmony writ large. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and Global Disinformation Index (GDI) have analysed the digital footprints of 73 US-based hate groups, assessing the extent to which they used 54 online funding mechanisms.

Disinformation briefing: Narratives around Black Lives Matter and voter fraud

This short briefing details the methodology and key findings of a study conducted jointly by the ISD team and Politico. Leveraging data from across social media platforms, this investigation seeks to understand online discussions around the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the issue of voter fraud ahead of the US Presidential election. The research was designed to shed light on the volume and nature of disinformation related to these two issues online and how this disinformation may be weaponised to attempt to influence attitudes ahead of the election.

QAnon and Conspiracy Beliefs

The findings from this study provide important context for understanding the relationship between QAnon and the broader problem of conspiracy theory beliefs. A majority of Americans know nothing about QAnon and fewer than one-in-ten have a favorable view toward it; yet, a majority of those who recognize and believe in QAnon conspiracy theories are not QAnon supporters (most said they had not even heard of QAnon).