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ISD CEO Sasha Havlicek was honoured to address the Christchurch Call Leaders’ Summit, convened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President Emmanuel Macron in New York in the margins of the UN General Assembly on 20 September. The two-hour roundtable brought together heads of state, including from Canada, Spain, and Jordan, alongside senior representatives from social media platforms and civil society for a frank discussion of the Call’s progress in addressing terrorist and violent extremist activity online.
Drawing on ISD’s extensive digital research in this domain, Sasha spoke to the enduring challenges of platform moderation of such content, especially in non-English speaking contexts. She called for better data access for independent, third party review of social media platform algorithmic systems: ISD has long advocated for meaningful transparency and accountability of platform systems including independent audits to assess the extent of algorithmic amplification of harmful content. Sasha underscored the need to better understand the role of algorithms in the promotion of borderline content – such as disinformation, hate and conspiracy - that can lead users to more extreme content online and can itself inspire violence. She advocated for the extension of data access rules coming into effect under the EU’s Digital Services Act to other liberal democratic environments.
Pro-Kremlin network impersonates legitimate websites and floods social media with lies
A new ISD investigation exposes the full extent of a pro-Kremlin influence operation spanning social media pages, cloned news websites and fake videos. Meta announced the takedown of pages associated with the operation on 27 September, describing it as "the largest and most complex Russian operation" the company has disrupted since the invasion of Ukraine.
More here
How Eric Zemmour’s election campaign used petitions to distort online support ahead of the French elections
In the first round of the French presidential elections in April, far-right candidate Eric Zemmour scored a mere 7% of the vote, and a few weeks later his party 'Reconquête' failed to gain any seats in the French National Assembly. ISD found a different picture on Facebook and Twitter, where his official campaign team appears to have used 12 petitions to create coordinated inauthentic behaviour to astroturf support & influence voters. Our findings are available in English and French.
More here
Understanding Italian pro-Kremlin Twitter users' behaviour in the lead up to the elections
ISD investigated 500 of the most active and popular pro-Kremlin accounts on Twitter, mapping their politics, news sources and electoral preferences. With a far-right victory in Italy, understanding this cohort and their attitude towards national elections is more important than ever.  

Our findings were shared in major Italian news outlets including La Republicca, La Stampa, and Il Secolo XIX
More here
Several ISD programme leads, along with CEO Sasha Havlicek, participated in the Eradicate Hate Global Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 19-21 September. The three-day event, often described as "the world's most coordinated offensive against hate and extremist violence", brought together experts and leaders from around the world, including our Head of Digital Integrity, Jiore Craig who lent her expertise in sessions on protecting elections and democracy; Head of Digital Analysis Unit, Melanie Smith who spoke on countering misinformation; and Senior Research Manager, Jared Holt who spoke in a session on platform safety.
As a member of the Christchurch Call Advisory Network, ISD CEO Sasha Havlicek also spoke at the closing session of the Eradicate Hate Summit. The 'Christchurch Call' session focused on the global efforts behind the Call, the progress it has made in driving change and the challenges to be tackled in the years to come.
Final call for a chance to earn a £50 gift voucher! 

ISD is looking for teens 13-18 years old in the UK to help us evaluate YouTube’s REFRAME Series by watching 10 videos & answering a few questions.

Think you know someone who can be of help?

Please forward to your wider networks. More information available here.
During a recent rally in Ohio, Trump supporters held up an index finger in salute to the tune of “Where we go one, we go all,” a QAnon anthem that has also been openly associated with the former president. 

Senior Research Manager Jared Holt spoke to the WaPo, Insider and USA TODAY about Trump’s recent embrace of QAnon is becoming more apparent and could be troubling for the upcoming US midterm elections. He also wrote an op-ed for The Daily Beast about the closing window of plausible deniability in Trump's promotion of QAnon supporters' content. 

In a new documentary by German outlet ZDF, ISD Senior Research Fellow
Julia Ebner discusses why the 'Munich massacre' at the 1972 Olympic Games was a turning point for terrorism globally. "It was the first time that terrorism generated so much media attention," she says. Watch it here

Voter fraud narratives from the US seem to have made their way to France, where they were adapted by French-language fringe communities during the 2022 general elections earlier this year. ISD Research Manager Cécile Simmons discusses the long-term threat this poses to democracy in her op-ed for French newspaper Le Monde

Election disinformation existed long before 2020, but having "offline champions” campaigning for office and as election officials “has really made this have staying power" in this current electoral cycle, ISD’s Head of Digital Integrity, Jiore Craig, says to Grid News.

In December, Analyst Kata Balint warned about Hungary’s role in the global ultraconservative network seeking to curb sexual and reproductive rights. In September, a ‘fetal heartbeat’ statute went into effect in Hungary further complicating legal abortions and restricting reproductive rights, a key ultraconservative aim. Deutsche Welle reported on our findings.

In this op-ed for the Irish Examiner, Senior Analyst Ciáran O'Connor writes about the media’s irresponsible framing of the case of Enoch Burke, a teacher suspended for breaching a court order to stay from a school, whose case has been misreported as revolving around his refusal to use a student's pronouns. Ciaran explores how sensationalist headlines are fostering dangerous misinformation in Ireland and abroad.

Join our team to counter hate, extremism and disinformation on a global scale

ISD is seeking exceptional applicants for a Head of MENA Hub, a MENA Network Officer and a MENA Programme Lead in Morocco, Tunisia or Jordan.

If you would like to know more about upcoming opportunities or submit a speculative application, please visit our careers portal below.
New ISD vacancies
Help ISD safeguard democracy

We have been committed to the fight against hate, extremism, polarisation and disinformation for over 15 years and it's all thanks to support from people like you. As an independent, non-profit organisation, our work is reliant on grants and donations to stay on the forefront of analysing and responding to threats to democracy in all their forms. 

By donating to ISD, your contribution will ensure we can continue to analyse, advise, and act to create stronger, more cohesive societies. Join us by donating at the link below.
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