The Impact of Brexit on far-right groups in the UK: Research Briefing

MELANIE SMITH AND CHLOE COLLIVER, JULY 2016

This research briefing uncovers the impact of both the announcement of the Brexit vote and the murder of Jo Cox MP on UK far right groups. Despite huge press attention on the issues of xenophobia and racism following the Brexit vote, very little research has emerged to show how the result has affected levels of support for existing far right political parties and street movements like ‘Britain First’ or the ‘English Defence League.’ Monitoring and analysing the presence of these groups on Twitter shows that followership of all of the five groups studied increased following these two events.

This study also investigated the use of derogatory xenophobic language on Twitter over the last two months, revealing that the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London and the Orlando terror attacks had a much more significant impact than the Brexit result.

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The Online Ecosystem of the German Far-Right

This report presents the findings of a research project of ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit about the alternative online-ecosystem of the far-right, including alternative social media platforms and alternative media outlets. While these platforms draw in a global audience this report focuses specifically on the German speaking and Germany-focused communities and outlets within this ecosystem. Drawing together ISD’s digital ethnographic work across dozens of forums and channels with the latest in machine learning and natural language processing, this report provides an overview over the size and nature of the far-right communities on these platforms the motivations for participating in these communities and assesses whether banning far-right groups from mainstream platforms leads to the displacement of their followers to ‘alternative’ platforms. We also analyse the role of alternative ‘news’ outlets in disseminating far right concepts, drawing on the‘Hate Observatory’, a joint initiative of ISD and the MIT Media Lab , based on their Media Cloud software, and compare the frequency and types of coverage of far-right themes in mainstream and alternative media. This report also recommends steps to be taken by tech companies, government, civil society and researchers to counter the far-right online.