Pandemic has spurred engagement in online extremism

  • Eighteen months of global lockdowns have led to growing engagement in toxic online extremist material
  • This material ranges from terrorist content to conspiracy theories and disinformation.
  • A study into extremism by the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD) showed that content on right-wing extremist pages and groups increased by 33.7% on Facebook last year, and posts on 4Chan were up by 66.5%.
  • In 2020, the UK’s Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) claimed that over 7% more pieces of suspected terrorism content had been reported.
  • Experts have highlighted the role of lockdowns in the UK in increasing the likelihood of other risk factors for extremism, with mental health pressures, the rise in psychosis cases and increased feelings of isolation.
  • Full story, here.


PM urged to enact ‘David’s law’ against social media abuse

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being urged to pass “David’s law” to crack down on social media abuse of public figures and end online anonymity following the murder of Sir David Amess MP on Friday.
  • There has been growing concern about threats and toxicity within public discourse and a push for overhauling the rules governing social media.
  • Campaigners have warned that ending online anonymity could put whistle-blowers and pro-democracy campaigners in authoritarian regimes at risk.
  • MPs are being urged to toughen the pending online harms bill to prevent trolls and other abusers from hiding behind pseudonyms and introduce new obligations on social media companies to regulate illegal and harmful material.
  • This follows the increasing concerns over the abuse MPs face online, such as the misogynistic comments directed at female MPs.
  • A BBC Panorama investigation highlighted the abuse and threats faced by women online, especially those “in the public eye” and the lack of action taken by the government and social media companies.
  • Full story, here.

Youth homelessness has risen 40% in five years

  • UK charity, Centrepoint reports that 86,000 young people were estimated to have presented to their local authority as homeless or at risk in 2016/17, rising to approximately 121,000 in 2019-20.
  • There are concerns that youth homelessness worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic as Centrepoint’s helpline received a record number of calls during lockdowns.
  • This was attributed to the rising rates of mental illness and unemployment, which disproportionately affect young people.
  • The chief executive of Centrepoint has warned that a new analysis suggests that black households are likely to be disproportionally affected.
  • Data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) shows that black households make up 10% of those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • This is even though black people make up approximately 3.5% of England’s population.
  • The DLUHC is concerned that this will worsen due to the planned cuts to universal credit.
  • Full story, here.