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.
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.