In the Foreign Policy article titled “ Self-Isolation Might Stop Coronavirus, but It Will Speed the Spread of Extremism “ Nikita Malik, director of the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society in London, talks about how millions of people stuck at home will turn to social media, where disinformation is rife. Radical Islamists and far-right groups are exploiting widespread confusion and fear to spread hate. She states:
With the spread of COVID-19, people are being instructed to stay at home, and rightly so. Unfortunately, this risks increasing the consumption of fake news, conspiracy theories, and extremist material online, as people try to make sense of the crisis surrounding them. While governments have made major efforts to provide accurate information about COVID-19 online, there are two areas where social media companies will have to remain vigilant: the rise of conspiracy theories and the role this plays in calls to increase targeted violence against at-risk communities. The first often leads to the second.
In the PolicyCloud project Policies against Radicalisation opinion-mining and sentiment analysis tools for social media analysis will be applied to identify radicalization efforts, linking to data on terrorist groups and attacks.
We are extracting data from trusted and untrusted sources, data coming from social media channels as well as European and International databases providing data and information sources in this domain. We aim to increase the level of trust for these data, to provide the policy makers on local and central level useful insights to cope with radicalisation in their community
Armend Duzha - Project Manager at the Maggioli Research and Innovation Lab, Lead Policy Cloud Pilot Project "Policies Against Radicalisation"
As Malik highlights in her article, health disinformation is an important gray area currently not covered by social media policy. Ethical compliance of the data is essential to make data-driven policy in the battle with misinformation:
What is the origin of data and how to deal with data. Then knowing that we want to have this kind of data being filtered and analysed for a basis of political decision-making processes. That is a humongous challenge. We have to assure that these data from an ethical point of view are somewhat clean, so that the accumulation of the data gives the political decision makers a feel of what the data gives them as a probable ground for decision making.
Klaus Brisch - DWF, Policy Cloud lead on ethical and legal compliance
Keep an eye on the Policy Cloud Pilot project Policies against radicalisation.