Addressing Challenges and Opportunities in Online Extremism Research: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

A Workshop at CSCW 21 Organized by : Shruti Phadke, Jessie Seiler, Tanushree Mitra, Kiran Garimella, Matthew Costello, James Hawdon

Workshop Description and Themes

Recent political and cultural upheavals around the globe highlight the importance of studying extremism in online spaces. The CSCW community has shown growing interest in exploring the information and influence operations, use of language and multimedia and finance structures in online extremism movements. The goal of this workshop is to broaden the current research by considering multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural aspects of online extremism research. This workshop brings together international researchers to discuss challenges and new opportunities to help (1) understand the representativeness and validity of the data used for studying extremism (2) uncover nuances in extremism research across countries and cultures (3) build norms for platform governance and policies (4) develop critical perspectives on extremism studies addressing questions such as research ethics and bias (5) promoting research efforts to aid victims of the extremism (6) leverage extremism research for aiding the recovery and social support for populations involved in online extremism.

Extremism Studies and Data

Given the massive amount of information produced online, online extremism researchers are confronted with almost infinite - but non-validated - data generated in real time. How do we derive novel data collection and validation methods for facilitating research in online extremism? What is our role in contributing and solidifying constructs of various extremist ideologies in the digital context?

Extremism across Cultures

Extremist and hate groups are profiting from unprecedented growth in online audiences across the world. However, the majority of online extremism studies focus on the USA and Europe. How can we systematically incorporate the linguistic, cultural, and political context of the researched populations in online extremism studies?

Extremism and Governance

Is online extremism ungovernable? We call upon the expertise of the digital policy and content moderation researchers to reflect on how we can cancontribute to bettering the norms of moderating extremism online. What are the practical challenges and roadblocks in moderating extremism online? How do we design content moderation systems to reduce platform migration of extremist communities?

Extremism Research Ethics

Online extremism research poses numerous ethical dilemmas which need to consider social justice, digital democracy, privacy, and freedom of speech. How can we design norms for studying, data sharing, and modeling in online extremism research?

Aiding Victims of Extremism

Resources for research, including time and funding, are not infinite. In the context of extremism research, it is possible that work focused on perpetrators will gradually contribute to a reduction in violence. However, it may be that increasing the focus on extremist perpetrators will inevitably detract from efforts to support their victims or defend their potential victims. How can we use extremism research to aid recovery and mental health of victims of extremism?

Recovery from Online Extremism

We invite the CSCW and HCI community to discuss how technology and platform design can help users disengage from online extremist communities or provide forums for sharing their experiences. How can we design platform or content interventions to aid disengagement from the extremist communities? How can we shape online spaces to better support recovery from extremism?


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