CEP-Studie: „Wo Wölfe Kreide fressen – Die rechtsextreme Infrastruktur auf Facebook, Instagram, YouTube und Twitter“

Alexander Ritzmann, November 2021

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Im Rahmen dieses CEP Recherche- und Analyseprojektes wurde eine Bestandausnahme der relevantesten Akteur:innen des Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland durchgeführt. Anhand von Kriterien wie der Anzahl und Relevanz von Aktivitäten wurden insgesamt 100 Personen, Organisationen, Musiklabels, Bands, Modemarken und Unternehmen als rechtsextreme Schlüsselakteur:innen identifiziert.

ACCELERATIONISM AND VRWE NARRATIVES (RAN Spotlight )

Accelerationists (who want to instigate a race war to bring down liberal democracies), saw the COVID-19 pandemic, the different health related measures and restrictions, and the surrounding fear, confusion and criticism as an opportunity to benefit from the resulting societal polarisation. Fortunately, their apocalyptic narratives seem to have found
little to no relevant support beyond already affected RWE milieus.

September 2021

Alexander Ritzmann

Linkt to RAN Spotlight Magazine (P. 14)

„Finanzierungsmuster und Netzwerke gewaltorientierter rechtsextremer Akteur:innen in Deutschland“ (CEP Studie, September 2021)

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Alexander Ritzmann, Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, Dr. Thorsten Hindrichs und Maximilian Kreter

  • Die Finanzierung gewaltorientierter rechtsextremer Organisationen und Akteur:innen in Deutschland ist divers und breit gefächert. Aktuelle fundierte Analysen von Finanzstrategien und Einnahmequellen fehlen jedoch weitgehend. Ein „Follow The Money“ – Ansatz zur Aufdeckung von Netzwerkstrukturen, wie er beispielsweise in einigen Fällen in der Prävention und Bekämpfung des islamistischen Extremismus und Terrorismus etabliert ist, scheint es im Phänomenbereich Rechtsextremismus noch nicht zu geben.
  • Teile der rechtsextremen Milieus, und insbesondere solche die eng in transnationale Netzwerke eingebunden sind, scheinen sich auf eine Professionalisierung der Finanzstrategien geeinigt zu haben. Bei der Betrachtung der öffentlich zugänglichen Informationen zu den von gewaltorientierten rechtsextremen Unternehmer:innen gewählten Geschäftsmodellen und Rechtsformen kann jedoch der Eindruck entstehen, es handle sich um diffuses and strategieloses Bild.
  • Es bietet sich jedoch auch eine alternative Interpretation an. Weite Teile der rechtsextremen Szene, und insbesondere das gewaltorientierte und transnationale Milieu, sind in hohem Maße miteinander vernetzt. Diese ausgeprägten Netzwerkstrukturen werden auf verschiedene Weise sichtbar.

Reporting about Violent Extremism and P/CVE Challenges for Journalists – Recommendations from Practitioners, August 2021 (RAN Paper)

Authored by Alexander Ritzmann and Fabian Wichmann

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Reporting about extremism and terrorism poses major challenges for journalists on different levels. This paper will address some of the most relevant challenges by introducing key insights and recommendations on how to follow a “do no harm” approach when informing the public, and particularly when reporting about violence.

The role of civil society organisations working on P/CVE will also be highlighted. According to EU law, terrorist offences are acts committed with the aim of:

  • seriously intimidating a population;
  • unduly compelling a government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act;
  • seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation.

Terrorism is the most extreme form of communication. It could be described as a deadly performance that aims at drawing attention to the political messages of the perpetrators by violently and publicly harming their victims. Terrorism is therefore even more about propaganda and manipulation than it is about the violent act itself. Put differently, without detailed media coverage about a terrorist attack, there might be no international terrorism, just local violence.

Podcast: Social media?! Why is their content moderation so bad? How come big tech are not liable for the harm they are doing? And can the EU DSA fix this?

Link to podcast

In today’s podcast, Lucinda Creighton was joined by CEP Senior Adviser Alexander Ritzmann to discuss internet regulation and extremist content online while particularly focussing on the DSA. Alexander Ritzmann advises the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Berlin on internet regulation, including the NetzDG, Artificial Intelligence/Transparency, and the EU Digital Services Act as well as on the effective countering of extremist/terrorist actors and content online. 

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The Globalization of Far-Right Extremism: An Investigative Report (CTC Sentinal)

JULY/AUGUST 2021, VOLUME 14, ISSUE 6
Authors: YASSIN MUSHARBASH

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Abstract: The fact that right-wing extremists are cooperating internationally more than ever today is a reality recognized by most researchers and government officials. This article describes some of the mechanisms that are fueling this development. The main finding is that right-wing extremists today, in many cases, no longer subscribe to the narrow concept of nationalism but instead imagine themselves as participants in a global struggle against a global enemy. Consequently, networking and cooperating across borders is seen as a necessity. This process is further supported by shared ideological writings, technological advancement, and the conflict in Ukraine, which has served as a powerful accelarator.

„In recent years, analysts and security institutions alike have pointed out that right-wing extremists are increasingly networking across borders and even continents. “Right-wing extremists maintain international links and mutual exchange and are influenced by key treatises and emblematic personalities worldwide,” Europol stated in its 2020 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report.1 The Counter Extremism Project (CEP), in a study funded by Germany’s foreign office, concluded in November 2020 that “the 21st century, and the period after 2014 in particular, saw the emergence of a new leaderless, transnational and apocalyptic violent extreme right-wing (XRW) movement.”2 „

….

In the past, explains extremism expert Alexander Ritzmann, right-wing extremists were focused on the fight for their own country. Today, though, the focus has shifted to the defense of the “white race.”17 So whether it is American neo-Nazis concerned about the growth of the non-white share of the population or European right-wing extremists who believe in the theory of “the great replacement”g or Russian ultra-nationalists who feel that their traditional “white” culture is being threatened by Western multiculturalism, gay rights, and the like, many have come to the same conclusion: that they need to defend themselves, that it might be useful to cooperate in order to do so, and that the means by which this conflict will be resolved will be a civil war-like scenario just like the one Mason has been propagating, except that it is envisaged as a global, transnational conflict.

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Proposed EU Digital Services Act (DSA) – “notice and (NO) action”: Lessons (not) learned from testing the content moderation systems of very large social media platforms (CEP Policy Brief)

Alexander Ritzmann

CEP Policy Brief
June 2021

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Key findings of independent monitoring reports
1) „notice and action“ systems seem to not work properly
Based on six independent monitoring reports, the overall average takedown rate of illegal
content by very large platforms (gatekeepers) based on user notices is 42%. This finding could
be considered a disprove of concept for voluntary content moderation, because if even
reported illegal content is mostly left online, the implications for legal but harmful content are
obviously very negative.

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Will The EU Digital Services Act (DSA) Make Social Media Safer For Their Users ? (Paper and Video)

Mai 2021: CEP Policy Paper: “EU Commission consultation – Digital Services Act package – ex ante regulatory instrument of very large online platforms acting as gatekeepers”

Authors: Alexander Ritzmann (CEP Senior Advisor), Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler (CEP Senior Director) and Lucinda Creighton (CEP Senior Europe Advisor)

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Video (YouTube)

The current draft DSA is based on a set of narratives about the role, function and business models of so-called gatekeeper platforms that do not seem to adequately reflect their actual functionality and commercial purpose. This paper will therefore those systemic misunderstandings and provide an alternative narrative that might help to build the internet and intermediary services the EU is actually aiming for.

Violent Right-Wing Extremism And Terrorism – Towards a common international understanding and shared legal concepts – Insights from Germany (Video)

Alexander Ritzmann

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This virtual conference organized by CEP on behalf of the German Foreign Office aimed to explore this issue in greater depth. The event highlighted a range of instruments governments have found useful in countering the domestic threat posed by violent right-wing extremism and terrorism. It discussed how developing a common conceptual understanding of the terrorist nature of networks within these wider transnational movements could open up the possibility to use already developed multilateral legal, administrative and operational structures, as well as instruments and mechanisms to mitigate terrorist threats.

The conference was organized in the framework of Germany’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Member States had the opportunity to exchange information on their already existing mechanisms and discuss which counterterrorism instruments may be already applicable to this threat and which may need further modification.