• Extremism onlineMapping Model Tracks How Hate Spreads and Adapts Online

    Online hate thrives globally through self-organized, scalable clusters that interconnect to form resilient networks spread across multiple social media platforms, countries and languages, according to new research. Researchers developed a mapping model to track how these online hate clusters thrive. The model outlines challenges to dismantling online hate groups worldwide.

  • Extremism onlineDespite YouTube Policy Update, Anti-Semitic, White Supremacist Channels Remain

    For years, YouTube has officially prohibited content which promoted or condoned violence or incited hatred against individuals or groups based on core characteristics such as ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, and religion. In June 2019 it updated that policy with specific prohibitions against ideologies like white supremacy, which asserted the superiority of one group in order to justify discriminating against or persecuting other groups. An analysis by ADL’s Center on Extremism found that a significant number of channels on YouTube’s platform continue to disseminate anti-Semitic and white supremacist content despite the company’s June 2019 crackdown on hate speech.

  • Influence operationsConcerns Growing that China's Influence Operations Getting Bolder

    By Jeff Seldin

    The U.S. intelligence community has warned that the battle for information dominance has been joined. Until now, much of the focus on been on Russia for its use of social media to meddle in a number of Western elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and, more recently, the 2018 congressional elections. But top U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly warned Russia is not alone, and that other U.S adversaries would be using lessons from Moscow’s successes for their own purposes.

  • PerspectiveNetflix’s Algorithms Seem to Be a New Entry Point for Conspiracy Theories. Be Aware!

    When the spread of disinformation became a major topic of debate in late 2016, it was discussed mainly in reference to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. In the following months, serious problems related to the diffusion of pseudoscientific beliefs, conspiracy theories and disinformation emerged on YouTube and WhatsApp.  Until now, the popular video streaming service Netflix had managed to stay out of the picture. Not anymore.

  • Perspective: Conspiracy theoryJeffrey Epstein Conspiracy Theorists Peddling Sci-Fi Novel Written by AG William Barr’s Late Dad

    A little-known science fiction book penned by the late father of U.S. Attorney General William Barr is being sold online at astronomical prices by sellers eager to attract Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy theorists. Space Relations: A Slightly Gothic Interplanetary Tale by Donald Barr has been thrust into the spotlight in the wake of the convicted pedophile’s apparent suicide, and eBay sellers — quick to link the two men — are now hawking it for as much as $4,999.

  • Truth decayAssault on Democracy: The New Conspiracism

    Conspiracy theory has always been part of political life. Sometimes far-fetched, sometimes accurate, and sometimes a confusing mix of the two, traditional conspiracy theory tries to peel away deceptive masks to show how the world really works. It demands a cause proportionate to the dire effect. In a recently published book, two scholars argue that in today’s conspiracies, conspiracy and theory have been decoupled. We therefore face a distinctively malignant new phenomenon of conspiracy without the theory. Like all conspiracism, it rests on the certainty that things are not as they seem, but conspiracy without the theory dispenses with the burden of explanation. We see no insistent demand for proof, no exhaustive amassing of evidence, no dots revealed to form a pattern, no close examination of the operators plotting in the shadows. Conspiracy without the theory exists less to explain than to affirm. The result  is toxic for a stable society and democratic politics.

  • PerspectiveJeffrey Epstein’s Death and Our Age of Conspiracy Theories

    In response to the news of Epstein’s death, conspiracy theories exploded across social media on Saturday. The hashtags “TrumpBodyCount” and “ClintonBodyCount” trended nationally, the former in no small part because President Trump himself retweeted the Clinton body count hashtag. In the U.S., conspiracy theories have historically thrived among groups that feel locked out, whether it’s Jim Crow–era African Americans or 19th-century white farmers during the Know-Nothing era who believed the “Pope in Rome” was plotting against them. What makes this moment so different — and dangerous — is that elites who presumably know better, or should know better, have become increasingly paranoid as well.

  • Perspective: Online racismHow Does Online Racism Spawn Mass Shooters?

    More and more experts classify mass shootings inspired by white nationalist ideology as terrorism — part of a global white nationalist movement that recruits or inspires potential shooters. The mechanisms of recruiting white nationalist terrorists work much as with other terrorist groups such as the Islamic State; they take lonely young men and give them a sense of purpose and identity. But instead of the alternative society offered by Islamic State membership, violent and racist online platforms build toward single murderous events. The language used on the forums to encourage potential shooters combines nihilism and toxic masculinity, goading them with anti-gay slurs and challenging them as “wannabes” if they fail.

  • Perspective: Truth decayWho Leads the U.S. “War” on Disinformation?

    When former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Intelligence Committee last week about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, some saw his comments about Moscow’s ongoing meddling attempts as the most important statement of the day. “It wasn’t a single attempt,” he said when asked about the spread of disinformation and whether Moscow would replicate the efforts again. “They’re doing it as we sit here and they expect to do it during the next campaign.” It’s not clear, however, who can or will lead the charge in this “war on disinformation.” Even as experts say the problem is worsening, it is unlikely that the current divided government could produce anything close to a solution.

  • PerspectiveDisinformation Moves from Fringe Sites to Facebook, YouTube

    Lawmakers and regulators focusing their attention on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the platforms’ role in propagating disinformation may be missing a big chunk of other online sites and portals that drive conspiracies and outright falsehoods, according to a nonprofit group that is studying how disinformation works.

  • Online hateHatechan: The Hate and Violence-Filled Legacy of 8chan

    El Paso, Texas. Poway, California. Christchurch, New Zealand. Three White Power-inspired attacks by three white supremacists who posted paranoid racist manifestos right before the attacks. Three killing sprees. One targeted Muslims, another Jews, the third Hispanics. What they all had in common was 8chan. In just six years, 8chan has achieved a rather unenviable reputation as one of the vilest places on the Internet.

  • Online hate Action Needed to Stem Online Hate: Researchers

    As Americans reflect on two mass shootings that claimed 31 lives last weekend, they’re asking how to stop the carnage. Researchers at a Los Angeles center devoted to tolerance say part of the answer lies in ending hate online. Political leaders and social media companies, they add, must help to tone down the hateful rhetoric.

  • Mass shootingsFrom Across the Globe to El Paso, Changes in the Language of the Far-Right Explain Its Current Violence

    By Arie Perliger

    In the past decade, the language of white supremacists has transformed in important ways. It crossed national borders, broadened its focus and has been influenced by current mainstream political discourse. I study political violence and extremism. In my recent research, I have identified these changes and believe that they can provide important insights into the current landscape of the American and European violent far-right. The changes also allow us to understand how the violent far-right mobilizes support, shapes political perceptions and eventually advances their objectives.

  • PerspectiveBritish Army to Engage in Social Media Warfare as New Cyber Division Unveiled

    The British Army is to engage in social media warfare, its most senior soldier has announced as he launched a new division of the military dedicated to fighting cyber threats. The new formation, titled 6 Division (6 Div), will seek to influence the behavior of the public and adversaries by specializing in “information warfare.” It is expected to react to social media “attacks” on Britain, and proactively launch similar offensives.

  • PerspectiveFacebook Isn’t Responsible as Terrorist Platform, Court Says

    Facebook Inc. doesn’t have to face a lawsuit by victims of Hamas attacks and their relatives who claimed that the social network unlawfully assisted the terror group, a federal appeals court ruled. the lawsuit was among several around the U.S. testing whether victims of terrorist attacks and their families can hold social-media companies to account for allowing violent extremists to use their platforms to recruit followers. The terrorism victims attempted for the first time to argue that social-media companies could be held liable under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.