Exeter team receives a CREST award for research on far-right forums

University of Exeter experts develop new ways to better monitor activity on extreme right-wing online forums linked with terrorism as part of a major new research project. The so-called “Chan” forums, have been linked with recent mass shootings in New Zealand, the US, Norway and Germany. Those who have carried out the acts used them to boast about the atrocities beforehand, and share “manifestos”.

Drs Stephane Baele, Travis Coan and Lewis Brace, develop effective ways to monitor and analyse the content of these forums, using cutting-edge computer-assisted analysis of images and text. Dr Baele said: “We hope our work will contribute to efforts around the world to better monitor and tackle the threat of right-wing extremists. These online forums contain extremist discussions and play a role in offline acts of violence, so it is crucial that rigorous analysis is developed to better understand this online ecosystem in order to help the authorities to tackle it.”

The project, called "MineChans" ("Mining the Chans: Exposing the Visual and Linguistic Dynamics of Radicalization in Far-right Image-boards") is funded by the Home Office via a CREST award (Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats). CREST, which was commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, receives the majority of its funding from the UK’s security and intelligence agencies.