COVID-19 Disinformation

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a direct impact on the challenges ISD seeks to address: hate, extremism and disinformation.

Bad actors and extremist groups are exploiting the pandemic and the anxieties emerging across the globe to further their extreme narratives and spread division and hate. Since March 2020, ISD has worked to understand the ways this global health crisis is being used, co-opted and manipulated for extremist ends.

Beyond the immediate public health emergency, this global crisis has profound effects on governance, social polarisation, the information landscape and political discourse, all of which have significant relevance to how extremist ideologies are constructed and disseminated. Crises also present opportune moments for extremists across the ideological spectrum to mobilise.

ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit is analysing the unfolding ‘infodemic’ surrounding COVID-19, producing regular analysis and commentary on emerging trends and issues. This includes working with high-profile media outlets around the world on focused investigations. In particular, ISD has been monitoring key issues emerging from the crisis including:

Extremist groups
Extremist groups, polarising forces and hostile state actors seizing on anxieties and grievances emerging across societies during the COVID-19 pandemic, positing supremacist, and violent solutions.

Populist authoritarian and national political groups
The political manipulation of this COVID-19 crisis by populist authoritarian and nationalist voices to mainstream divisive and polarising narratives.

Othering
The promulgation of othering ‘us and them’ narratives around COVID-19 and the targeting of vulnerable groups, through anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-migrant, and sectarian rhetoric.

Disinformation
The health of the wider COVID-19 information ecosystem, including the use of inauthentic coordinated information campaigns by state and non-state actors to distort or disrupt public information about the virus through online platforms.

Policy advice
Our Digital Policy Lab advises governments, cities and tech companies on policies and strategies to mitigate the online harms we face today and achieve a ‘Good Web’ that reflects our liberal democratic values, prioritises safety and public health, and sanctions harmful activity online.

Latest Publications on COVID-19 Disinformation

Click here for more related ISD Publications

ISD’s Disinformation team

Milo Comerford
Read Bio
Milo Comerford

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

×
Milo Comerford
Milo Comerford

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

Milo Comerford is Senior Manager, Policy, leading ISD’s work developing innovative research approaches and policy responses to Islamist extremism. Milo regularly briefs senior decision makers around the world on the challenge posed by extremist ideologies, and advises governments and international agencies on building effective strategies for countering extremism. His writing and research features frequently in international media, including the Guardian, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, Spectator, and New Statesman, and he has made recent broadcast appearances on BBC News, Sky News and Al Jazeera. Milo was previously Senior Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where he led major research projects on jihadi propaganda, religious counter narratives to extremism and the transnational far right. He holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Oxford, and has previously worked on a global education programme, building open-mindedness and resilience to extremism in young people across 30 countries.
Chloe Colliver
Read Bio
Chloe Colliver

Head of Digital Policy and Strategy

×
Chloe Colliver
Chloe Colliver

Head of Digital Policy and Strategy

Chloe is Head of Digital Policy and Strategy at ISD, leading a global team of analysts studying disinformation and extremism online. Chloe has led programmes of work detecting and responding to online manipulation targeting the German, European Parliamentary, UK, Swedish and US Elections. Based on this research, Chloe advises governments and technology companies on responses to online harms from state and non-state networks. In this advisory capacity, Chloe has worked on the development of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google, and has provided expert testimony to the UK Home Affairs Select Committee, the Swedish, New Zealand, Canadian, French and German governments, the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and the Global Counter Terrorism Forum on digital policy and tech regulation. Her work has appeared in CNN, the BBC, Sky News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired and Bloomberg. Chloe is a Yale Mellon Fellow and sits on the Advisory Board for Accountable Tech.
Jacob Davey
Read Bio
Jacob Davey

Senior Research Manager, Far Right & Hate Crime

×
Jacob Davey
Jacob Davey

Senior Research Manager, Far Right & Hate Crime

Jacob Davey is a Research Manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue where he leads on research into the far-right. His research focuses on the role of digital communications in inter-communal conflict, internet culture, online hate speech and the international far-right. In addition to this he has led a number of projects piloting novel models for identifying extremist conversation online as well as interventions to counter this phenomenon. He has advised national and local policymakers on right-wing extremism, including the Home Affairs Select Committee, and has lead trainings with frontline practitioners on the mobilisation strategies of extremist groups. He has provided commentary on extremism-related issues in a number of platforms including The Guardian, The Independent, and The BBC, and also sits as a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.
Cooper Gatewood
Read Bio
Cooper Gatewood

Manager, Digital Research

×
Cooper Gatewood
Cooper Gatewood

Manager, Digital Research

Cooper is a Manager within ISD’s Digital Research Unit, focussing on quantitative research into the spread of hateful and polarising narratives online, and how they are leveraged by extremist actors. Cooper also develops monitoring and evaluation frameworks to measure the impact of a number of ISD’s intervention projects. Cooper is currently contributing to ISD’s research on disinformation campaigns, particularly those aimed to influence and disrupt election processes. He also manages on the Online Civil Courage Initiative in France, coordinating activities to support civil society’s response to hate and extremism online. In addition, Cooper conducts ongoing evaluation of a number of ISD’s programmes, including Be Internet Citizens and Young Digital Leaders. Prior to joining ISD, Cooper worked at Portland, where he advised clients from the non-profit and government sectors on their media engagement and social media strategies. Cooper holds a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University and a Masters of International Security from Sciences Po. He has a background in quantitative research and data visualisation. He also speaks fluent Spanish and French, as well as proficient Japanese.
Cécile Guerin
Read Bio
Cécile Guerin

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

×
Cécile Guerin
Cécile Guerin

Coordinator, Technology, Communications & Education

Cécile Guerin is a Coordinator at ISD, supporting the organisation’s European development and analysis work. She works on the Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI), a Facebook-funded project which aims to upscale civil society efforts against hate speech and extremism online. Cécile also contributes to ISD’s research and policy work, with a focus on social media analysis and network mapping related to hate speech, extremism and disinformation online. She has written for a range of publications, including The Guardian, Prospect and The Independent. Prior to joining ISD, Cécile spent two years working in publishing. Cécile holds an MSc in International History from the London School of Economics and an MA in English from the École Normale Supérieure in France.
Jakob Guhl
Read Bio
Jakob Guhl

Coordinator, Policy & Research

×
Jakob Guhl
Jakob Guhl

Coordinator, Policy & Research

Jakob Guhl is a Coordinator at the ISD, where he mainly works with the digital research team. Jakob has co-authored research reports on the alternative online-ecosystem of the far-right, reciprocal radicalisation between far-right extremists and Islamists, coordinated trolling campaigns, hate speech and disinformation campaigns targeting elections. He is a frequent commentator on German radio and broadcast, including Deutschlandfunk, Tagesthemen and Radio Eins. Jakob has been invited to present his research about 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 cited in the New Republic, Die Welt, Die Zeit and The Guardian, among others. Additionally, he has published articles in the “Journal for Deradicalisation”, “Demokratie gegen Menschenfeindlichkeit”, Taz and co-authored an essay for an edited volume of the Munich Residence Theatre about the origins of contemporary political anger. Jakob holds an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London. His dissertation focused on the radicalisation processes of converts to Islam who became violent extremists.”
Mackenzie Hart
Read Bio
Mackenzie Hart

Associate, Research & Policy

×
Mackenzie Hart
Mackenzie Hart

Associate, Research & Policy

Mackenzie is an Associate at ISD, working across various projects in the research and policy division. MacKenzie focuses on hate, disinformation, and the far-right and has also been involved with ISD’s election analysis units, mapping and analysing online information operations, as well as the activities of extremist groups. Before coming to ISD, Mackenzie completed her MA in Terrorism, Security and Society at King’s College London, where she also worked as an intern at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) and as a research assistant in the War Studies department. Her dissertation analysed the manifesto of Identitarian group, Generation Identity. From December 2015 to March 2016, Mackenzie lived in Sierra Leone, volunteering for a grassroots NGO supporting youth-led, community development projects and education. Originally from Canada, Mackenzie obtained her BA from Simon Fraser University with a double major in International Studies and History.
Jennie King
Read Bio
Jennie King

Senior Policy Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

×
Jennie King
Jennie King

Senior Policy Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

Jennie King is a Senor Policy Manager, supporting programme design, policy outreach and strategy across the organisation. Before joining ISD, Jennie served as MENA Regional Director Arts, Assistant Country Director Egypt and Co-Director Hungary for the British Council, the UK’s international body for cultural relations. In Egypt she coordinated a system reform programme with the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, including the most extensive policy dialogues in recent decades, and organised the country’s first ever Social Enterprise Week with 400+ stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors. In Europe she spearheaded the People-to-People Central Europe programme, an initiative to foster cohesion in the most deprived and marginalised regions of Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic, designing activities to promote inclusive economic growth and youth-based social action. Jennie read Arabic and Spanish at Pembroke College, Cambridge, receiving a Foundation Scholarship and the Marie Shamma’a Frost Prize for Oriental Studies. She was awarded the Idle Scholarship on graduation, joining Occidental College’s Oxy-at-the-UN Programme in New York. At UNHQ she completed courses in Conflict Resolution and Human Development and led a task force for the Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Change. She also served as an Attaché for the Guatemalan Diplomatic Mission, covering modalities for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, COP 20, and resolutions passing through the Security Council on ISIL.
Charlotte Moeyens
Charlotte Moeyens

Manager, Technology, Communications & Education

Henry Tuck
Read Bio
Henry Tuck

Head of Policy & Research

×
Henry Tuck
Henry Tuck

Head of Policy & Research

Henry Tuck is Head of Policy & Research at ISD, responsible for the overall management of the Institute’s research programme, including oversight of all publications, research methods, and ethics across a variety of topics, from disinformation to the far-right and extremism online. Henry also leads ISD’s policy-focused work to counter online harms in collaboration with a range of key stakeholders, advising leading governments, international organisations and major private sector tech companies. Since starting at ISD in 2013, Henry has previously driven fundraising, strategy and the development of new projects and partnerships, led a series of ISD’s education and counter-narrative projects (including Extreme Dialogue and Be Internet Citizens), designed the Institute’s Monitoring and Evaluation frameworks, and conducted research on foreign fighters, deradicalisation and the far-right. He holds a Masters (with distinction) in International Conflict Studies from Kings College London, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Durham University.