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GNET Research Digest – April 2023

GNET Research Digest – April 2023
18th July 2023 GNET Team
In Research Digest

Welcome to the April edition of the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) research digest.

Your digest contains a selection of relevant news, research, academic journal articles, and GNET Insights relating to terrorist use of technology.

New GNET Report:
MENA‐Based, Far‐Right and Far‐Left Extremist Groups: A Date‐Based Analysis

This study identifies symbolically significant dates for extremist groups based in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as for far-right and far-left groups located around the world. Given the high frequency of terrorist attacks worldwide, identifying useful patterns based on the dates of their past occurrences of political violence remains a challenge for developing effective tracking and response. This report uses Google Trends scores and Nexis Uni data to identify important dates for extremist groups based on the largest spikes in online views and international
news items.

The report concludes that technology companies should combine symbolically significant dates into their algorithms for detecting hate speech by groups. The mention of dates that have elevated public attention in the past could serve as useful indicators for future acts of violence, extremist messaging or other events critical to such groups. Algorithms should be refined to assess attention spikes and be updated on a regular basis. They should be disaggregated for lone actors and extremist groups and entities, as the two produce distinct patterns related to attention spikes. Any changes in events associated with attention spikes should be evaluated against proto‐state definitional characteristics, as those criteria serve as indicators of the goals and violent activities posed by extremist groups.

Read the report here

GNET Report Launch:
Understanding the Trauma-Related Effects of Terrorist Propaganda on Researchers

When: Tuesday 9th May 17:00 BST/ 12:00 EDT
Where: Online (Zoom)

Researchers who study online terrorism and political violence face a broad spectrum of risks to their safety and wellbeing. Awareness of the challenges researchers face in this subdiscipline has remained relatively low for years. Since the launch of Islamic State’s propaganda campaign on the internet, which skilfully deployed scenes of death and dying to influence online audiences, that awareness has increased. Subsequently, some researchers have reported that prolonged exposure to terrorist content can be harmful across many wellbeing dimensions.

This research project aims to determine if exposure to terrorist propaganda may be a factor in causing trauma for researcher or their development of mood disorders. The study is founded on two research methods: an online survey and a novel experiment. The online survey was completed by a group of recognised terrorism researchers who were asked about their opinions and experiences related to the impact of their research activities on mental health. The experiment used a biofeedback device and an eye‐tracker to measure the short‐term psychophysiological response of researchers to ordinary content available on the internet (Control Group) and certain types of terrorist propaganda (Experimental Group). The reactions of both groups, primarily their eye fixation and skin conductance, were subsequently compared.

Register here

Academic Papers

Tuck, Henry et al. (27 April 2023). ‘Researching the Evolving Online Ecosystem: Telegram, Discord & Odysee’. Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

Clemmow, Caitlin et al. (20 April 2023). ‘Crowdsourcing Samples for Research on Violent Extremism: A Research Note.‘ Terrorism and Political Violence.

Meleagrou-Hitchens, Alexander & Julian Bellaiche (19 April 2023). ‘Maintaining the Movement: ISIS Outreach to Westerners in the Post-Caliphate Era’.  The George Washington University; and National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education Center.

Grusauskaite, Kamile et al. (17 April 2023). ‘Debating (in) echo chambers: How culture shapes communication in conspiracy theory networks on YouTube’. New Media and Society.

Vu, Anh V, Alice Hutchings & Ross Anderson (14 April 2023). ‘No Easy Way Out: The Effectiveness of Deplatforming an Extremist Forum to Suppress Hate and Harassment’. Cryptography and Security.

Lindner, Miriam (6 March 2023). The Sense in Senseless Violence: Male Reproductive Strategy and the Modern Sexual Marketplace as Contributors to Violent Extremism. Harvard University.

Wells, Garrison et al. (11 April 2023). ‘Right-Wing Extremism in Mainstream Games: A Review of the Literature’. Games and Culture.

Valasik, Matthew & Shannon Reid (5 April 2023). ‘Alt-right gangs and far-right extremists: From the margins to the mainstream’. Sociology Compass.

Vail, Katherine (3 April 2023). ‘Preventing online radicalization and extremism in boys’. Phi Delta Kappan.

Somoano, Inés Bolaños (2 May 2022). ‘The right-leaning be memeing: Extremist uses of Internet memes and insights for CVE design’. First Monday.

Lee, Benjamin (26 January 2020). ‘Neo-Nazis Have Stolen Our Memes’: Making Sense of Extreme Memes’. Digital Extremisms.

News Articles

Rincke, Andreas & Sarah Marsh (26 April 2023). ‘German spy agency ranks youth group of far-right AfD ‘extremist”. Reuters.

Lukpat, Alyssa (26 April 2023). ‘Jacinda Ardern Is Going to Harvard to Study Online Extremism’ Wall Street Journal.

Paraguassu, Lisandra & Peter Frontini (26 April 2023). ‘Brazil court suspends Telegram for not complying with order on neo-Nazi groups’. Reuters

Ras, Isel (24 April 2023). ‘Time to re-assess terrorism prevention in Africa?’. Institute for Strategic Studies.

Milmo, Dan (24 April 2023). ‘Far-right Britain First party given Twitter gold tick’. The Guardian.

Gadher, Dipesh (22 April 2023). ‘The computer nerds making home-made guns for terrorists’

Carless, Will (14 April 2023). ‘What is Discord? And why does it keep coming up in news stories like the Pentagon leak?’ USA Today.

Hymas, Charles (9 April 2023). ‘ChatGPT could promote ‘AI-enabled’ violent extremism’. The Telegraph.

Pearson, Elizabeth (6 April 2023). ‘Who’s Protecting the Researchers? REASSURE report findings on identity and harms for online extremism and terrorism researchers’ ICCT.

Brown, Jennings (6 March 2023). ‘The Mysterious ‘Sisterhood’ Tearing Families Apart’. The Daily Beast.


Lewis, Jonathan, Joshua Molloy & Graham Macklin (27 April 2023). ‘The Lineage of Violence: Saints Culture and Militant Accelerationist Terrorism’

Criezis, Meili (21 April 2023). ‘Wilayat Facebook and Instagram: An Exploration of Pro-IS Activities on Mainstream Platforms’ 

Lakomy, Miron (19 April 2023). ‘The Return of the Virtual ‘Caliphate’? Mapping the Evolution of the Islamic State’s Information Ecosystem’

Macfarlane, Archie (17 April 2023). ‘Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP): Operating with Impunity Online’

Liyanage, Chamila (14 April 2023). ‘Extremist NFTs: How Does Blockchain Immortalise Extremism?’

Pozzoli, Manfredi (13 April 2023). ‘Violent Assemblages: Rethinking Screens, Media, and Lone Wolf Terrorism’ 

Rickard, Kit (11 April 2023). ’25 Years After the Good Friday Agreement: Persistent Violence and the Role of Digital Platforms in Northern Ireland Today’ 

Vergani, Matteo, Alfonso Martinez Arranz, Ryan Scrivens & Liliana Orellana (6 April 2023). ‘From Blaming China to Attacking Domestic Elites: The Evolution of Hate Speech in a Telegram Channel during the COVID-19 Pandemic’

Molloy, Joshua (5 April 2023). ‘Terrorwave: The Aesthetics of Violence and Terrorist Imagery in Militant Accelerationist Subcultures’

Alrhmoun, Abdullah, Charlie Winter & János Kertész (4 April 2023). ‘Terrorist Bots: How Islamic State has Automated Management of its Online Community on Telegram’

Molas, Barbara (27 March 2023). ‘‘Tomatoes for Tanks’: Humour and Violence in Post-Brexit Meme Culture’.