Welcome to the March 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:
A Picture is Worth a Thousand (S)words: Classification and Diffusion of Memes on a Partisan Media Platform
There has been extensive research on the impact and properties of misinformation as well as methods for platforms to moderate misinformation. However, moderation policies and algorithms capable of filtering out meme content with extremist foundations are lacking. Building on prior research on identification of terrorist imagery, this report explores algorithmic approaches in harmful meme content and exploring its patterns of diffusion.
Using state-of-the-art Deep Learning image and visual rhetorical analysis, the report examines memes within an alternative (or fringe) platform by categorizing them into themes of gender, race, partisanship, and violence. It further reveals the transmission rates of the memes associated with these themes. It proposes a unique methodology that combines automatic image clustering with network analysis, developing a to compare the transmission rates of memes at different timepoints. In so doing, it provides experts with an overview of a working model of meme content filtering in order to help platforms identify and filter memes with supremacist topics, as well as test image attributes to develop a toolkit to understand which memes diffuse in alt-tech platforms.
GNET & PRIF Roundtable:
Incel Communities & Identities – Research, Prevention, and Technological Counter-measures in the Manosphere
When: Wednesday 19th April 14:00 BST/ 15:00 CET
Where: Online (Zoom)
In recent years, multiple countries have seen severe examples of violent antifeminist radicalization, including killings in Isla Vista, USA (2014), Toronto, Canada (2018), and Plymouth, UK (2021). Multiple perpetrators were affiliated to so-called Incel communities of heterosexual men who are ‘involuntarily celibate’, i.e. do not succeed in establishing sexual relations with women. As part of the so-called ‘manosphere’ – an umbrella term describing misogyny-dominated online spaces that are used to discuss experiences of masculinity – the radicalization of these attackers has sparked increasing academic interest over the past years and research efforts conducted so far uncovered a significant overlap with the far-right. In order to better address those who identify with Incel narratives and prevent future violence, a more nuanced understanding of the manosphere, of Incel communities and their identities, as well as the digital context in which they are formed and maintained, is needed.
This GNET Roundtable connects experts on antifeminism, the manosphere, Incel communities, and online prevention to discuss existing knowledge and paths forward. A special focus is put on the question of how Incels construct their (involuntary) identity, in order to explore entry points for communication with them as well as the question of how platforms can address this phenomenon.
- Greta Jasser (Fellow at the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism/Research Associate at FoDEx, University of Göttingen)
- Dr. Elizabeth Hintz (Assistant Professor of Health Communication at the University of Connecticut)
- Stine Helding Rand (Psychologist with the Centre for Digital Youth Care, Denmark)
If you would like to join this roundtable, please send an e-mail with your full name and affiliation to Mona Klöckner at PRIF ([email protected]).
ICSR invites you to attend a book launch for Dr Dave Rich’s new book, Everyday Hate: How Antisemitism is Built Into Our World and How You Can Change It.
Where: King’s College London
When: Tuesday April 11th, 5pm BST
Antisemitism is supposed to have disappeared long ago, but despite our abhorrence of racism and oppression in all its forms, this ancient prejudice continues to thrive. Anti-Jewish hate crime is rising, Jewish blood is spilt in Europe once more and arguments over antisemitism, whether in politics or music, theatre or sport, are increasingly hard to avoid. At a time of economic, political and social turmoil, fuelled by conspiracy theories on your smartphone or conflict in the Middle East, antisemitism is back, and we need to know why.
It would be tempting to put this down to a handful of extremists, but antisemitism endures at an everyday level in the stereotypes and assumptions about Jews that are woven into the fabric of our world. It is these almost-unnoticed prejudices that perpetuate violent hatred, and until we all understand where they came from, how they are sustained and how they can be challenged, they will continue to do so.
Blending personal anecdotes, contemporary examples and historical insights, Everyday Hate takes you on a journey through this contentious and often confusing subject. Spanning Shakespeare to South Park, Israel to Covid-19 and ancient stereotypes to internet memes, it reveals surprising truths about how antisemitism continues to thrive in the interactions, assumptions and views of decent people around the world – and how we can change this for the better.
Dr Dave Rich is one of the UK’s leading experts on antisemitism. He has worked for almost thirty years for the Community Security Trust, a Jewish charity that protects the UK Jewish community, and advises the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, football clubs, political parties and many others about how to tackle antisemitism. Dave is a research fellow at the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism.
Diab, Ahmad (16 March 2023). Online to Offline Crossover of White Supremacist Propaganda. Companion Proceedings of the ACM Web Conference 2023.
Ristić, Katarina (15 March 2023). Far-right digital memory activism: Transnational circulation of memes and memory of Yugoslav wars. Memory Studies.
Wilson, Fredrick, Edmond Lemdi & Justin Wilson (14 March 2023). Social Media, Terrorism, Violent Extremism and Conflict in Nigeria. Journal of Analog and Digital Communications.
Steinkuehler, Constance (12 March 2023). Games as Social Platforms. Games: Research and Practice.
Pearson, Elizabeth et al. (8 March 2023). Online Extremism and Terrorism Researchers’ Security, Safety and Resilience: Findings from the Field. VOX-Pol.
Phelan, Alexandra et al. (8 March 2023). Misogyny And Masculinity: Toward A Typology Of Gendered Narratives Amongst The Far-Right. CREST.
Biswas, Arundhatie (8 March 2023). The Great Gender Glitch: Women and Online Violence. Observer Research Foundation.
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.
Woods, Rebecca, Phil Mackie & David Lumb (21 March 2023). Counter-terror police help investigation as man set alight near Birmingham mosque. BBC News.
Milton, Pat, Jeff Pegues & Caitlin Yilek (20 March 2023). “Significant increase” in threats online ahead of possible Trump indictment. CBS News.
Fishman, Brian (14 March 2023). Dual-use regulation: Managing hate and terrorism online before and after Section 230 reform. Brookings.
Murray, Sean (3 March 2023). Microsoft, Sony, And More “Fail” To Counter Extremism In Gaming Communities. The Gamer.
Ram, Rohit & Marian-Andrei Rizoiu (26 February 2023). Can ideology-detecting algorithms catch online extremism before it takes hold? The Conversation.
Gilbert, David (29 January 2023). Inside a US Neo-Nazi Homeschool Network With Thousands of Members. VICE.
Cunliffe, Rachel (23 January 2023). “There are thousands of Andrew Tates out there”: The battle against online extremism. The New Statesman.
Molas, Barbára (27 March 2023). ‘Tomatoes for Tanks’: Humour and Violence in Post-Brexit Meme Culture.
Ragandang, Primitivo (24 March 2023). Youths Challenging Violent Extremism through Digital Platforms in the Philippines.
Tebaldi, Catherine (22 March 2023). Granola Nazis: Digital Traditionalism, the Folkish Movement and the Normalisation of the Far-Right.
Boughali, Khalil (20 March 2023). Frank James: The New York Subway Shooter’s Radical Discourse on Social Media.
GNET Team (16 March 2023). Unpacking the Incelosphere: In-group Categorisation, Incel Purity, and Competition.
Lounela, Emilia (15 March 2023). Discourses of Violence in Incel Online Discussions After the Plymouth Shooting.
Daly, Sarah (14 March 2023). Understanding Incels’ Online Behaviour and Perceptions of Hateful Content.
Sjoerts, Rutger (13 March 2023). Incel PR: The Rebranding of the Incel Community & the Role of Media and Academia.
Grobbelaar, Alta (10 March 2023). Can ‘Cyberterrorism’ Really Exist in Africa?
Criezis, Meili & Mona Thakkar (6 March 2023). Soliciting Online Bayʿat: Pro-Islamic State Responses to Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi’s Death.
Webber, Lucas & Bruce Pannier (3 March 2023). The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s Enduring Influence on IS-Khurasan.
Yeo, Kenneth (1 March 2023). Rebranding the East Asia Knights: A Reflection of Dawlah Islamiyah’s Effort to Learn.
Bradley, Arthur & Charley Gleeson (27 February 2023). Trends in Terrorist Use of the Internet in 2022.