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.“

Political Monopoly: How Europe’s New Authoritarians Stifle Democracy and Get Away With it

"Political Monopoly: How Europe’s New Authoritarians Stifle Democracy and Get Away With it" is a new analysis of how Europe’s new authoritarians in Hungary, Poland and elsewhere consolidate power while maintaining a democratic facade. Comparing them to economic monopolies, it proposes a framework of “political anti-trust” to restore competitive politics.

The Genesis of a Conspiracy Theory

This briefing paper provides an overview of the key trends in activity around the QAnon conspiracy theory from 2017 to 2020. Crucially it points to major spikes in QAnon activity in March 2020, suggesting both an increase in activity to promote the conspiracy theory and the spread of this conspiracy to new audiences.