This report examines the patchwork of online text‑based instant messaging applications preferred by jihadist and far‑right extremist groups, with a focus on charting their technical affordances and their host companies’ stances on user privacy, security and regulation. To this end, the report analyses six online messaging services (BCM, Gab Chat, Hoop Messenger, Riot.im, Rocket.Chat and TamTam) that have been or may be used in conjunction with Telegram by extremist groups.
Currently, many supporters of various extremist groups are concentrated on the online instant messaging service Telegram, although some are attempting to make inroads to other platforms. Telegram is consistently referred to as the “platform of choice” for jihadists online, most notably supporters of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS), but it has also been continuously popular among extreme right‑wing movements. Analysts and scholars of online extremism, as well as many governments, consider Telegram a stable communications platform for extremist groups of multiple persuasions due to its suite of features, including end‑to‑end encrypted communications for its users and its guarantees of anonymity and privacy. Extremists use Telegram channels and groups as staging grounds for a “multiplatform zeitgeist,” wherein media content is rebroadcast from Telegram onto other messaging platforms and public‑facing websites.