Research Focus

Our research design acknowledges that the literature (whether academic or practitioner-based) on violent extremism is vast, richly populated and broadly conceived. The purpose of GNET is not to replicate this. Whilst we build on this body of work, the goal of GNET is to empower experts to probe and explore contentious issues of broad social relevance as they relate to violent extremist behaviours and technology. To be clear, GNET is only concerned with violent extremist behaviours and not with ‘extremism’ per se. Our objective is to produce actionable outcomes based on rigorous evidence-based research and robust academic methods.

Our research agenda is focused around the following overarching question:

How do online violent extremist behaviours and content relate to offline, real-world harms, and how do mitigation activities responding to those behaviours and content interact with normative social concerns including freedom of expression and conscience, privacy, and human rights?

Our policy-focused research design means that the overarching question will be interrogated through six broadly intersectional fields of inquiry. These are:

1

The nexus between online behaviours and offline harms

2

Balancing user privacy, state security and human rights

3

Emergent and/or less intensively studied forms of violent extremism

4

Optimising academic-practitioner cooperation and data-sharing

5

File-sharing and communication platform migration

6

Exploring and explaining the limitations of algorithmic measures

GNET wants to promote responsible research and best practices among the academic community working on contentious issues of violent extremism. As such, our members agree to abide by the following pledge when undertaking their work:

The Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) recognises the important role played by academic researchers who study, analyse and gather information related to terrorist content. We recognise that, at times, there is a need to put primary material into the public domain. Our pledge acknowledges academic freedoms in this respect, while also encouraging researchers to consciously reflect on the material they are about to publish, by first considering the benefits and harms of making such information available to the wider public. Members are encouraged to publish material with accompanying analysis so that it contextualises and explains the content, and to not reproduce it in a way that inadvertently propagates, disseminates or glorifies terrorism or promotes the aims of violent extremist groups.