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New research from ISD highlights the failure of social media platforms to set policy and act on abortion misinformation. In the aftermath of the leaking of the US Supreme Court's decision on the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization, which had the effect of overturning Roe v Wade, misinformation about abortions as well as about 'abortion reversal' pills and procedures ran rampant across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

As the US midterms loom, platforms are under pressure to make the right calls on preventing the spread of mis- and disinformation about the elections. Their reaction to the overturning of Roe v Wade and the resulting huge change in access to abortions for many, is in some sense a test-run for this. The platforms had substantial notice that this outcome was likely, and therefore had time to create and enforce policies on misinformation about abortion. They mostly failed to adopt policies to deal with this, and where they did so those policies were inadequately enforced. This does not bode well for the likelihood that they will act decisively on mis- and disinformation related to the midterms. This is especially concerning given the importance of these midterms, which will act as an inflection point for the survival of American democracy itself.

Read ISD's report: Evaluating Platform Abortion-Related Speech Policies: Were Platforms Prepared for the Post-Dobbs Environment?
How platforms profited from abortion misinformation in the lead up to the overturning of Roe v. Wade
After the Dobbs vs Jackson Women's Health Organization decision was leaked, misinformation about abortion pills and procedures ran rampant on social media. Platforms have shown once again they are not prepared to safeguard users from harmful health narratives, often failing to enforce the few policies they do create, and inconsistently applying fact-checking labels across countries and languages. This is a disappointing continuation of what happened with misinformation around COVID-19.
More here
Eight trends from election denialists to watch in the US midterm elections
ISD US is watching online spaces popular with extremists and election denialists. In this Dispatch, they outline eight trends observed during primary elections that they expect to continue, or even escalate, in the lead up to the 2022 midterm elections. These include violent rhetoric towards election workers and calls for vigilante action at polling locations.

US Senior Research Manager and co-author of the report Jared Holt features on The Daily Beast's Fever Dreams podcast discussing the team's findings and what to expect from here on out.
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Have the EU sanctions against Russian-state media worked? ISD finds steady website traffic & circumvention methods at play 
The EU blocked access to RT and Sputnik content, including on social media/search engines, as a protection following the invasion of Ukraine. How, then, is pro-Kremlin propaganda still reaching EU audiences? ISD assesses the efficacy of the sanctions and identify a series of loopholes that have allowed Russian state-affiliated media content to successfully reach the region. 
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Violence in Leicester, UK: Understanding online escalation and offline fallout
During September, nearly 50 people were arrested in relation to protests in Leicester between large groups of young Hindus and Muslims. While some claimed the violence stemmed from an India v. Pakistan cricket match on 28 August, reports of tension stretch back to May, when a Muslim youth was attacked by an unknown assailant. We explore the complex causes and effects of the violence, as well as the responses of the media and groups such as pro-BJP, Islamist, Sikh, and extreme right-wing communities.
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How QAnon conspiracy theories legitimise coordinated and targeted gender-based violence
Since QAnon’s rise to fame, celebrities like Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Chrissy Teigen & more, have found themselves at the centre of the movement’s conspiratorial narratives, quickly becoming the targets of hate, slander and coordinated harassment. In this report, ISD examines whether this harassment operates like other forms of targeted hate and harassment online and explores the role of gender-based violence against a sample of prominent celebrities. We found that female celebrities were far more likely to be targeted by harassment and brigading than men.
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Inside the ‘Journalisten Friekorps’, a pro-Kremlin influence operation
A video, widely circulated and shared by a Russian UN diplomat & a German politician, purports to show Western arms meant for Ukraine being sold on the black market. But the video is fake.

In a new investigation, ISD traces it back to ‘Journalisten Friekorps’, a fake news outlet with Russian ties. Read our investigation below. 

More here
What's behind the rapid growth and precipitous decline of Andrew Tate's popularity? ISD's Head of Communications & Editorial,
Tim Squirrell, spoke to Tortoise on the misogynist ideology and platform manipulation underpinning his controversial and short-lived stardom, explaining both his astonishing ascendance and the inevitability of his removal from mainstream platforms.

Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon said her time with conservative media project Real America Voice prepared her to be governor. ISD Senior Research Manager Jared Holt spoke with The Daily Beast about Dixon's media past and how it's a "well-worn" pattern in our modern political landscape, as individuals with pre-existing media careers transition to politics.

Middle Eastern Nazis' content is being shaped by trends in the international far-right. ISD’s Executive Director for Asia, the Middle East and Africa (ED AMEA), Moustafa Ayad, wrote for GNET on the urgency of addressing the lack of research into these regions and ISD’s work on the crossovers between extreme right-wing and Islamist ideologies. 

Islamist extremist networks are hacking Facebook profiles and updating public user info (job title, business, location, etc) to autogenerate business pages for their causes. Why isn’t Facebook stopping them? ISD's ED AMEA Moustafa Ayad spoke to Yahoo News.

Interested in challenging extremism, hate and disinformation in all its forms?

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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. 

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