Confronting the Challenge of ‘Post-Organisational’ #Extremism – #terror

The UK’s recent ban of the sixth far right group since 2016, the neo-Nazi Feuerkrieg Division, might come as little surprise given the growing challenge posed to the country by right wing extremism. But what might seem stranger is that this largely online entity—allegedly founded by a 13-year-old Estonian boy—‘no longer existed’ by the time of its proscription, with members already fanning out to join new online groups since the its dissolution in February[1]. Episodes like these reflect a constellation of interrelated challenges associated with an increasingly ‘post-organisational’ threat landscape—where the fluid boundaries between organisations and movements, direction and inspiration, and online and offline are becoming more and more ambiguous. The fracturing and franchising of global extremist movements globally poses a critical challenge for policymakers and tech companies. Amid mounting pressure from governments and civil society, some progress has been made in recent years in removing illegal terrorist content associated with proscribed groups from more mainstream social media platforms. However, our current approaches are not fit to tackle an increasingly diffuse, ‘post-organisational’ threat emerging from both Islamist and far-right extremism. Given the increasingly decentralised, post-organisational and ‘crowdsourced’ nature of both the global Islamist and far-right movements, in large part enabled through burgeoning online extremist ecosystems, it is essential that policymakers and tech companies alike develop policy frameworks that move beyond a group-centred approach to understanding the threat from violent extremist groups. (…) This post-organisational challenge poses a particular threat within far right extremism, with increasingly ideologically cohesive, networked and transnational movements forging new online ecosystem across unregulated imageboard sites such as 8chan and 4chan, censorship-free discussion platforms like Voat, ultra-libertarian social media sites like Parler, and encrypted messaging channels such as Telegram, to coordinate campaigns and share extremist content[10]. But there remains considerably less international alignment around the far right than there is on Islamist threats, posing major challenges to classification and enforcement. There have been moves to proscribe far right groups as terrorist organisations in some national contexts, such as National Action in the UK and Blood & Honour in Canada, while the US recently proscribed its first foreign ‘Racially and Ethnically Motivated’ terrorist organisation, the Russian Imperial Movement[11][12][13]. But such movements are banned in some countries but not others, even if, like Combat 18, they have transnational membership[14]. While tech companies have been developing their own internal guidelines and terms of service around ‘hateful’ and ‘dangerous’ groups, specific policies around terrorism are partly hamstrung by the limitations of international lists of proscribed terrorist groups, such as the UN Designated Terror Groups list, which are focused on ISIS and al-Qaeda related threats[15]. Meanwhile groups like Atomwaffen Division, originally formed in the US, are currently not banned at all despite explicitly advocating for the use of terrorist tactics. An analysis of the presence of terrorist-supporting constituencies on Telegram has shown that while the organisational power of groups such as Atomwaffen Division is still important, there is an expansive network of terrorist-endorsing channels on the platform that are not explicitly affiliated with any group, which are very easy for individuals to tap into without expressing formal affiliation to a movement or making contact with other affiliates. Channels and content can thus be seen as “pro-terrorist” whereby support is expressed for politically motivated violence or individuals who have committed attacks, even when there is no express affiliation to a proscribed organisation[16].

via orfonline: Confronting the Challenge of ‘Post-Organisational’ Extremism