Extremism onlineTool Identifies, Exposes Violent Extremists Online

Published 2 March 2020

In an increasingly connected world, there are plenty of opportunities for extremists to communicate, recruit, spread propaganda, and incite violence. From videos being shared on Facebook and Twitter, to more niche instant-messaging services such as Telegram, to coded postings on Gab, 4 Chan, and 8chan — the number and reach of communications channels available to extremists has never been greater. The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), a non-partisan organization, has develop a platform – Contextus – which uses machine-learning to track and expose extremist discourse online.

In an increasingly connected world, there are plenty of opportunities for extremists to communicate, recruit, spread propaganda, and incite violence. From videos being shared on Facebook and Twitter, to more niche instant-messaging services such as Telegram, to coded postings on Gab, 4 Chan, and 8chan — the number and reach of communications channels available to extremists has never been greater.

A growing awareness of the threat these extremists pose has lent an urgency to the development of tools effectively to combat online extremists.

The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), a non-partisan organization, has gathered a team of neuroscientists, senior technology industry officials, physicists, and machine-learning experts to develop a platform – Contextus – which tracks and exposes extremist discourse online by addressing virtual deception, manipulation, and the spreading of hate.

NCRI says that the Contextus Platform aims to track, expose, and reveal the significance and meaning of language, videos, and images used by members of web communities, especially as such coded language and symbols cross over into a zone in which hate is spread and violence encouraged.

NCRI says its technology does three things:

·  Integrate: The technology first collects data from both mainstream and fringe social network communities across the web – NCRI says it collects billions of posts and millions of images. Then, by using machine learning and artificial intelligence, the technology detects patterns and gains a deeper understanding of these communities. The data collected and analyzed offers an invaluable insight into the radical discourse, symbols, images, and hashtags each community relies on for communication among its members. The NCRI tool charts their flow of images within and between social platforms.

·  Track: The NCRI technology then decode the language, images, symbols, and hashtags to gain a better understanding of the context within which a group’s communication takes place. This approach allows NCRI to provide quantifiable metrics which help in tracking and understanding the conditions which facilitate an increase of hate crimes and violence.

·  Expose: NCRI’s technology helps reveal trends which expose what the company calls “red zones of infection,” where web discourse becomes a precursor to actual violence. The company’s reports use bold graphics and visual presentations in order to improve the understanding of these threats.