Its Lit: Fighting Incel Radicalisation and Extremism

Bjarki Gronfeldt-Gun

This ingenious initiative to reduce misogyny and hate speech aimed at women online, from a team of current and alumni Kent researchers has won the Invent2Protect UK Spring 2022 Program in Paris.

A team of current and former Kent PhD researchers have won the Invent2Protect UK Spring 2022 Program at a final presentation in Paris. The program is organised by the US Embassy in London and is dedicated to research and developing community interventions aimed at preventing radicalisation.

The four researchers – Mikey Biddlestone, Bjarki Gronfeldt, Jocelyn Chalmers and Hannah Zibell – have overlapping research interests such as misogyny, gender relations and social identification. They decided to team up and participate in the program using their theoretical expertise and interests to design an applied intervention.

The Kent team’s winning research proposal and program is aimed at preventing young men from being radicalised by incel ideology – a new form of misogyny that has been spreading online in recent years. The goal of the Kent team’s initiative, FIRE (Fighting Incel Radicalisation and Extremism) is to design memes (i.e., short humorous messages and images online) aimed at debunking myths associated with incel ideology, such as the idea that feminism is a conspiracy against men. To achieve this, the team intends to use the award money to empirically validate memes aimed at reducing susceptibility to these beliefs; these memes can then be posted online where they spread organically from user-to-user.

If successful, the initiative will reduce misogyny and hate speech aimed at women online, making online spaces safer and reducing the likelihood of violence in the real world.

Congratulations to Mikey, Bjarki, Jocelyn and Hannah for bringing the fire to this impactful research!

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