Rape posts every half-hour found on online incel forum

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By Chris Vallance
Technology reporter

A memorial to victims of an incel-linked attackImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

A memorial to victims of a 2014 incel-linked attack

Discussions connected a large forum for incels are increasing much violent, a caller study by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has warned.

Incels - abbreviated for Involuntary Celibate - clasp misogynistic beliefs, and immoderate person launched convulsive attacks.

The CCDH probe suggests that, connected average, a station astir rape was published to the forum each 29 minutes.

The report's authors privation tech firms to bash much to antagonistic the problem.

For 18 months, researchers from CCDH's caller Quant Lab utilized instrumentality learning to assistance analyse successful excess of a cardinal posts connected the forum.

The study does not sanction the forum - to debar giving it publicity - but says it is the largest online, with much than 17,000 members and 2.6 cardinal visits a month. Women are barred.

The forum is 1 of a fig of online incel communities "promoting a hateful and convulsive ideology linked to the execution oregon wounded of 100 radical successful the past 10 years, mostly women", the researchers write.

According to 1 definition, incels are men who are "unable to find intersexual partners contempt wanting them, and who explicit hatred towards radical whom they blasted for this".

Image source, PA Media

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Flowers near astatine the country of killings successful Plymouth, Devon successful 2021

To the CCDH researchers' alarm, convulsive rhetoric connected the forum accrued importantly during the study, with posts mentioning incel wide murders rising by 59% betwixt 2021 and 2022.

While the information work MI5 has said astir incels are not violent, the question has been linked to a fig of attacks.

In Isla Vista, California, successful 2014, Elliot Rodger murdered six radical and injured 14 earlier sidesplitting himself,

Rodger near a 137-page manifesto detailing his privation "to punish everyone who is sexually active", and to bring astir the "second phase" of a "War connected Women".

'Coherent movement'

In 2021, a gunman killed 5 radical successful a suburb of Plymouth successful Devon.

The alleged perpetrator, 22 year-old Jake Davison, is thought to person been progressive connected societal media discussing the incel movement. Bereaved families urged the authorities to take enactment against incel culture.

CCDH main enforcement Imran Ahmed told the BBC: "This is simply a coherent question of men who not conscionable airs a menace of wide attacks, but besides a important menace to immoderate pistillate successful their lives."

Mr Ahmed said their probe showed acts of incel unit should not beryllium treated arsenic the enactment of lone wolves.

"They are not socially isolated. They're embedded successful a assemblage of chap travellers. And determination is simply a well-developed, perpetually negotiated, perpetually discussed ideology that underpins their content strategy and underpins their actions."

UK agencies bash not presently specify incel beliefs arsenic a violent ideology, but accidental it is imaginable that immoderate idiosyncratic acts whitethorn transverse the threshold and beryllium regarded arsenic single-issue terrorism.

But a spokesperson for Counter Terrorism Policing said they took the menace from incels seriously, adding: "We person resources dedicated to investigation and appraisal of the menace this ideology poses to the public."

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Flowers capable slug holes aft the Isla Vista attack

The study besides considers users' enactment for acts of intersexual violence.

Its investigation suggests that the wide bulk of posts astir rape were supportive, likewise "discussions of paedophilia amusement 53% of posters are supportive".

Keywords associated with paedophilia occurred successful posts made by "1,143 unsocial users, oregon 28% of the progressive users successful our dataset", the researchers said.

Mr Ahmed fears determination whitethorn beryllium galore unreported acts of unit that tin beryllium linked to the incel movement.

"It's astir definite that offences person been committed, that women person been harmed, and we haven't attributed that to incels successful the past due to the fact that we focused connected the wide attacks.

"We've besides got a absorption connected the wider menace to women and girls we discovered successful this country."

Analysis

By Marianna Spring, disinformation and societal media correspondent

Misogyny online sits on a spectrum - and immoderate of these posts connected incel forums would beryllium considered the astir extreme. This study tells america however the worst look to beryllium getting worse.

It's successful keeping with a broader escalation successful convulsive rhetoric we've seen from groups connected societal media, whether linked to conspiracies oregon far-right ideologies.

More specifically, it seems to acceptable into a wider signifier of expanding anti-women hatred online.

This was a taxable I investigated for BBC Panorama, exposing however societal media algorithms tin propulsion anti-women hatred to accounts that person started to explicit an involvement successful this benignant of content.

The dummy relationship I acceptable up was driven towards contented that discussed intersexual unit and condoned rape. It suggested that, if you're already susceptible to misogyny online, algorithms tin marque it worse.

Anecdotally, I've noticed however maltreatment sent to maine online much and much often includes threats of intersexual violence. Many women I've interviewed and spoken to astir trolling person expressed concerns implicit however the aforesaid benignant of rhetoric they're seeing successful messages online could construe into enactment offline.

Image source, Getty Images

Teenage boys are being drawn into the movement, with the researchers uncovering young forum members who expressed an involvement successful violence.

A idiosyncratic claiming to beryllium 15 discussed wanting to "go ER" successful 1 post, a operation that refers to emulating the Isla Vista killer, successful committing a wide shooting.

Another user, who described themselves arsenic a schoolhouse student, said helium had besides considered going "ER". He asked for assistance from different forum members aft claiming to person been flagged to Prevent - the UK counter-extremism programme - for carrying a weapon successful his schoolhouse bag.

Other users offered him proposal connected utilizing a virtual backstage web to debar surveillance, and congratulated him connected a determination to halt taking anti-psychotic medication, researchers found.

Online safety

The study makes a fig of recommendations, respective of which impulse large tech to deplatform incel sites, including:

  • Google should marque definite incel sites are deranked successful its hunt results
  • Incel YouTube channels should beryllium deplatformed
  • Infrastructure companies specified arsenic Cloudflare should not supply services to incel sites
  • Authorities should plan and instrumentality anti-extremism interventions for incels

According to Google, its hunt ranking systems are designed to debar exposing radical to hateful and harmful contented if they are not explicitly looking for it.

YouTube policies prohibit hatred speech, harassing and intersexual contented and, connected review, it said it had removed oregon age-restricted respective videos connected 2 of the channels cited successful the CCDH report.

The CCDH has successful the past suggested that the Online Safety Bill could beryllium an important instrumentality successful tackling harmful incel content. However, ministers person precocious said rules that would necessitate tech firms to code worldly that is harmful but ineligible connected their platforms volition beryllium changed.

Mr Ahmed urged the authorities not to h2o down these provisions successful the bill.

"We've got to beryllium not conscionable pugnacious connected terrorists, but pugnacious connected the causes of terrorism," helium said.

"Here we tin spot a assemblage that is precise cautious astir ne'er tripping the enactment into existent transgression behaviour online, but nevertheless, collectively airs an incredibly superior threat.

"So it's perfectly important that authorities instrumentality to their guns successful a portion of authorities that's already had much scrutiny than astir immoderate measure usually does."

A DCMS spokesperson told the BBC that the main purpose of the Online Safety Bill is to support children and tackle abhorrent transgression enactment online.

"Hate crime, kid intersexual exploitation and encouraging unit oregon rape are amerciable and each companies successful scope - including tiny websites and chatrooms - volition person to region and bounds people's vulnerability to this contented oregon look monolithic fines from Ofcom".

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