The report charts principal shifts in terrorist and violent extremist (TVE) behaviour and tactics online, and aims to inform more comprehensive, cross-industry responses to countering TVE exploitation of the internet.
It also highlights how Terrorist Operated Websites present an urgent threat, undermining global efforts to disrupt online terrorist activity taken elsewhere across the tech eco-system.
The report examines four areas:
Islamist terrorist and violent extremist use of the internet
Far-right terrorist and violent extremist use of the internet
Crisis events and online response
Global events, namely the Russian invasion of Ukraine
TVE entities have expanded their online capabilities through the exploitation of new platforms and platform types to share propaganda, communicate, and fundraise.
Most trends in TVE behaviour outlined in this report are caused at least in part by improved content moderation in recent years by tech platforms and demonstrate the continued resilience and adaptability of TVE networks online.
Terrorist and violent extremist operated websites are an increasingly threat in the online landscape, due to the ease of creating such websites and difficulties in removing them.
Islamist terrorists and violent extremist entities, including Islamic State, have adapted their online presence to evade content moderation through hosting their own platforms and servers, as well as building their own websites and file hosting platforms. Moving to these spaces causes increased difficulties in disrupting their content online.
Far-right terrorist and violent extremist networks have experimented with new platforms and platform types, especially to share attacker-produced content. We have also identified these networks increasingly posting graphic and violent content, regardless of ideology, such as official Islamic State content.
Following attacks in Buffalo, New York (May), Udaipur, India (June), and Bratislava, Slovakia (October), we monitored the spread of attacker-produced content across the tech ecosystem. We assess that small platforms are increasingly targeted for sharing this content, though are often not included in current crisis response mechanisms, allowing the content to remain online for longer.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine galvanised support for far-right violent extremist pro-Kremlin networks, which will almost certainly grow as the war goes on. Coordinated disruption of these networks will be better enabled by terrorist designations and further sanctions.
Moving into 2023, Tech Against Terrorism will continue to support the tech sector in tackling and disrupting TVE exploitation of the internet, through tracking, analysing, and alerting TVE entities across the entire online ecosystem. We will particularly be focusing on expanding our support for infrastructure providers, increasing our crisis response abilities, and providing comprehensive support to tech companies of all sizes.