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.“