• Extremism on lineThe Infrastructure of Hate: Epik Hosts Extremist Groups

    Social media platforms have received the lion’s share of attention for enabling users to spread hate and disinformation and plan and incite violence and terrorist acts. Flying under the radar are infrastructure providers like Epik, a domain registrar and web hosting company that works with nearly 750,000 websites and is ranked among the 50 largest web hosts. While some companies at the infrastructure level have acknowledged a level of responsibility for addressing abuse of their services—for example, this framework by domain registrars signed by leading companies such as GoDaddy, Tucows and Amazon—Epik is not among them.

  • PolarizationHow Shared Partisanship Leads to Social Media Connections

    By Peter Dizikes

    It is no secret that U.S. politics is polarized. An experiment conducted by MIT researchers now shows just how deeply political partisanship directly influences people’s behavior within online social networks. The Twitter experiment shows clear self-selection into social media “echo chambers” due to political preferences.

  • Social mediaFacebook Restores News to Australian Users

    By Phil Mercer

    Facebook is restoring news content to its users in Australia after resolving a dispute with the government. Last week, Facebook blocked Australians from sharing and reading news stories on its platform in a dispute with the government in Canberra.   

  • ExtremismInoculating against the Spread of Radical-Islamist and Islamophobic Disinformation

    Misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda are core components of radicalization and extremism and apply equally to Islamist radicalization and the generation of Islamophobia. One method of countering disinformation is to inoculate the information consumer.

  • Extremism46,218 News Transcripts Show Ideologically Extreme Politicians Get More Airtime

    By Joshua P. Darr, Jeremy Padgett, and Johanna Dunaway

    We research how changes in the media have shifted the incentives of elected officials and the considerations of voters, and what that means for American democracy. In recent work, we showed that extremely conservative and extremely liberal legislators receive far more airtime on cable and broadcast news than their moderate counterparts. Robust local news outlets once held legislators to account by covering whether they delivered for their districts. But as local news has declined, voters are turning to national media outlets for their political news. There, ideological outliers now set the tone of the debate, distorting perceptions of the important issues and warping Americans’ views of their political options.

  • IncitementGermany: Hate Speech, Threats against Politicians Rise

    By Ben Knight

    Three weeks after a neo-Nazi was convicted of murdering regional governor Walter Lübcke. In answer to a parliamentary information request from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the Interior Ministry reported that 1,534 crimes against politicians, party members or party property had been reported in 2020, a 9 percent increase on the year before.

  • DeepfakesDeepfake Detectors Can Be Defeated, Researchers Show for the First Time

    Systems designed to detect deepfakes —videos that manipulate real-life footage via artificial intelligence—can be deceived, computer scientists showed. Researchers showed detectors can be defeated by inserting inputs called adversarial examples into every video frame. The adversarial examples are slightly manipulated inputs which cause artificial intelligence systems such as machine learning models to make a mistake.

  • ExtremismAustin Orders Military Stand Down to Address Challenge of Extremism in the Ranks

    Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin has ordered a DOD-wide stand down to discuss the problem of extremism in the ranks. The stand down will occur over the next sixty days, Kirby said. This is so “each service, each command and each unit can take the time out to have these needed discussions with the men and women of the force,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said. Austin said in the meeting with military leaders that while the numbers may be small, they are not as small as anyone would like.

  • ExtremismHow Telegram Disruption Impacts Jihadist Platform Migration

    In October 2018 and November 2019, Europol conducted two Action Days geared toward meaningfully disrupting jihadist networks on Telegram – a social media platform favored by groups like Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. A new report aims to understand the impact of the 2018 and 2019 Europol Action Days – first, what they meant for the health and size of the jihadist networks on Telegram and second, how they impacted on the phenomenon of migration to other platforms.

  • PandemicThe Evolution of COVID-19 Dark Web Marketplaces Before the Vaccine

    In new research, data scientits highlight the importance of the continuous monitoring of dark web marketplaces (DWMs), especially in light of the current shortage and availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Attack o the CapitolDon’t Blame Fox News for the Attack on the Capitol

    By Ashique KhudaBukhsh,Mark Kamlet, and Tom Mitchell

    In the immediate aftermath of the 6 January assault on the Capitol, in a Trump-inspired effort by his supporters to prevent Congress from ratifying the rightful winner of the election, Fox News was criticized for “whipping up the radicals.” A close comparative study of post-election news coverage, however, shows that Fox News was restraint, and largely accurate, in its coverage, while three right-wing fringe networks – Newsmax, One America News Network (OANN), and Blaze TV – had a far bigger role in amplifying Trump’s disinformation and conspiracy theories about the election. The hyper-partisan coverage of election integrity provided by the three fringe networks – combined with the almost perfectly sealed echo chamber they had created for their viewers – makes them the more likely culprit for having riled up loyal Trump supporters.

  • IncitementIncitement to violence is rarely explicit – here are some techniques people use to breed hate

    By H. Colleen Sinclair

    As senators plan for an impeachment trial in which former President Donald Trump is accused of inciting his supporters to mount a deadly insurrection at the Capitol, there is a growing concerns about threats of violent unrest in multiple countries, and the role played by the proliferation of dangerous speech on line – and by political leaders. U.S. law reflects the assumption that dangerous speech must contain explicit calls to criminal action. But scholars who study speeches and propaganda that precede acts of violence find direct commands to violence are rare.

  • ARGUMENT: De-platforming limitsDe-platforming Is a Fix, But Only a Short-Term One

    In the wake of the 6 January attack on the Capitol, major social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have applied their now-customary methods of content moderation to U.S. users considered to be spreading hate and inciting violence. “More atypically, companies operating the mostly invisible digital infrastructure which platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are built on, also demonstrated their power, taking down Parler,” writes Will Marks, a researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “But death on the internet is short lived,” he notes. “Without Parler or Twitter, disinformation and hatred — coded or overt — will continue to be broadcast.” Marks adds: “At a certain point, the question about what to do with Parler is only part of the broader one about how society should cope with the fact that segments of the population are living in different realities.” This is a problem for which there is no technological solution.

  • Dark webShining a Light on the Hidden Shadows of the Internet

    The dark web is perceived as the underbelly of the internet world, but it’s not all as negative as it may seem, says a computer security expert. The dark web is becoming increasingly popular with internet users who simply want to safeguard their privacy online.

  • Conspiracy theoryAs Donald Trump exits, QAnon Takes Hold in Germany

    By Esther Felden, Jordan Wildon, Anne Höhn, and Lewis Sanders IV

    The storming of the U.S. Capitol illustrated just how dangerous a conspiracy theory can be. In Germany, QAnon is gaining momentum — and its most ardent followers are sticking with Donald Trump.