Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund – Episode 112 – Part 8 of 13

Half The Story and The Institute for Strategic Dialogue


Half the Story

#HalfTheStory is the pioneering non-profit on a mission to empower the next generation’s relationship with technology through research, education, and advocacy.


In May 2015, our founder, Larissa May shared her struggle with mental health on social media and #HalfTheStory was born, pioneering  the leading digital wellbeing movement for the next generation. We work with educational institutions, State and Federal governments, and fortune 500 companies to create new standards


We believe that knowledge is power and a world that thrives with technology is possible.

A world where teens aren’t consumed by unregulated algorithms. Where no one falls for fake news over real facts. Where we, not big data, have control over our lives. A world where digital wellbeing is a fundamental human right.

Our mission is to rebuild the next generation’s relationship with technology, and it starts with unpacking the toll it takes on our mental health.

Are you with us?

 Impact Pillars



Digital Habits

How devices are built to be addictive


Analyzing the manipulative features built into devices and platforms to maximize time on devices.


We examine how technology exploits neuroscience to prolong device usage and decrease user autonomy.


Modifying platforms and devices to improve self regulation and shift digital habits from mindless to mindful consumption.


Emotional Agility

Core foundational skills of emotional intelligence


The practice of getting as specific as possible about the emotions you are feeling in the digital world.


The practice of stopping to think when you are emotionally activated online.


The practice of meeting your emotions with kindness and compassion online and IRL.


Teen Talk

Despite being the most impacted by technology, so much of the conversation around digital wellbeing happens without teens.  Not here.  At Half the Story, you are the centre of our world and it’s your voice that matters.

Want to share your story? Concerned about a digital trend?  Have a tip for unplugging. We want to hear from you.


Our Founder

Larissa May (Larz)is a digital wellbeing pioneer who founded #HalfTheStory in 2015 after struggling with her relationship between social media and mental health. Larz shared her struggle on Instagram, igniting a digital grassroots movement that gave rise to #HalfTheStory. Larz has been named a Digital Wellness activist by Time, Forbes, Refinery29, Good Morning America, and NBC. Beyond her organization efforts with political figures and tech leaders, Larissa speaks for a growing generation of digital activists toward a thriving future. Follow her journey at @livinlikelarz.


The Team


To realize our mission of democratizing access to Digital Wellbeing, we have to make sure that #HalfTheStory is accessible for as many people as possible. We strive for constant improvement in this area, and we’re actively taking steps to empower our teams  with the education and tools they need to build accessible experiences on the web.

Social Media U

Teens, schools, and parents are struggling with managing devices, digital habits impacting focus, and online behavior impacting school culture and peer relationships. After 5 years in the field, #Halfthestory recognized an alarming gap between existing programs and their ability to connect with youth culture and actually shift behavior.

SocialMediaU is an evidence-based digital wellness program, co-designed with youth, to educate young people on the connections between emotional health and digital habits and transform their sense of self and their relationship with technology.

Who we serve:

Schools, after school programs, and mental health centers in the US and UK.


Institute of Strategic Dialogue

Institute for Strategic Dialogue is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding democracy and human rights and reversing the rising tide of polarization, extremism and disinformation worldwide.


Who we are

Since 2006, ISD has been at the forefront of analysing and responding to extremism in all its forms. Our global team of researchers, digital analysts, policy experts, frontline practitioners, technologists and activists have kept ISD’s work systematically ahead of the curve on this fast-evolving set of threats. We have innovated and scaled sector-leading policy and operational programmes – on- and offline – to push back the forces threatening democracy and cohesion around the world today.

ISD partners with governments, cities, businesses and communities, working to deliver solutions at all levels of society, to empower those that can really impact change. We are headquartered in London with a global footprint that includes teams in Washington DC, Berlin, Amman, Nairobi and Paris.

We are always independent and maintain the highest standards of integrity.

How we effect change

ISD is uniquely able to turn research and analysis into evidence-based policy and action. Our research and insights shape our action programming on the front lines, and inform the training and policy advisory work  we provide to central and local governments, civil society, front line practitioners and international organisations.

Analysis: We combine sector-leading expertise and research in global extremist movements with an advanced digital analysis capability. With this, we identify and track online manipulation, disinformationhate and extremism in real time. Our Digital Analysis Unit has built proprietary tools delivering social science standards of data. This provides ISD and our partners with granular insights into the evolving actors, tactics and technologies involved in proliferating hate, disinformation and extremism online, helping protect communities and institutions from potential attack.

Action: We design and deliver programmes that empower cities, practitioners and civil society around the world to mitigate hate, polarisation and disinformation. Our Strong Cities Network (SCN) has delivered training to thousands of practitioners (police officers, teachers and youth workers) around the world. This 3-minute video captures the impact of the SCN in its first 5 years.

Our counter-extremism and digital citizenship education programmes have been rolled out in 12 countries. From the first multi-media counter-extremism educational resources for schools, to our cutting edge digital citizenship programmes, our work builds the resilience of young people to hate speech, misinformation and extremism on and offline.

Crucially, we work to empower civil society, fostering networks of community influencers – including the first and largest global network of former extremists – that have the credibility to reach hard-to-reach target audiences. We have trained over 32,000 activists and social influencers around the world, and have pioneered first of their kind intervention models across different online spaces – gaming, social media, alt-tech platforms – reaching over 100 million targeted users online to date. Our policy and community networks make ISD uniquely equipped to scale proven solutions and programmes.

Policy: We formulate and advocate policy solutions, and provide local authorities, central governments and multilateral institutions with the data, expertise and technical support to deliver evidence-based policy and programming. ISD has provided policy support and training to over 40 governments and hundreds of cities worldwide. We launched the Strong Cities Network, at the UN General Assembly in 2015.

Beyond partnerships with institutions like the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, ISD has spearheaded and led inter-governmental initiatives in the domains of counter-extremism and digital regulation. ISD’s Digital Policy Lab brings 12 governments, the European Commission and regulators together to chart the path forward on platform governance, a vital aspect to our work on safeguarding democracy.


What We Do

How We Work:-

ISD research combines in-depth analysis with cutting-edge technology to monitor and understand global trends in extremism, polarisation, hate and disinformation.

Our research has been consistently ahead of the curve, predicting developments in extremism and informing global responses to emerging challenges.

ISD’s research combines world-leading expertise in these fields with the latest artificial intelligence and online research techniques, analysing data across social media at speed and scale. This includes the established technology giants, as well as emergent or fringe platforms that dominate the ‘alt media.’ With tech and academic partners, we have built tools to map online extremist ecosystems, from mainstream social media to encrypted and dark web ‘alt-tech’ platforms.

We feed insights from our global networks of policymakers, practitioners and grassroots organisations directly into our research, helping inform our understanding of different problems and the effectiveness of different solutions.

Our research has a strong ethical framework and is action-focussed, with transparent methods and objectives. ISD’s research is built on three core pillars: knowledge, tools and networks.

Our multi-disciplinary team of researchers combine ethnographic, qualitative and quantitative methodologies with world-leading expertise that stretches from violent extremism through to polarisation, hate speech and disinformation.

Our analysis uses both commercial products and bespoke tools. We have built tools to map online extremist ecosystems, from mainstream social media to encrypted and dark web ‘alt-tech’ platforms and fringe sites spreading disinformation.

We share our insights with a range of audiences to help them improve their responses to these threats. This includes ‘data dashboards’ for local governments; trend briefings for counter-hate organisations; education resources for schools and youth groups; and media reporting for the public.


ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit as featured in a BBC documentary, 2020


ISD youth networks, such as YouthCAN, are among the beneficiaries of our digital insights

Primary Research and Data Sets
Anthropological research and primary data-sets inform our programming and strategic interventions. These include extensive research on transnational white supremacist and Islamist extremist movements, disinformation, ISIS foreign fighters and their families.

Digital Analysis Unit
ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit is dedicated to better understanding how extremist and hate groups use technology. We combine a team of leading ethnographic researchers with the latest audience mapping, targeting and evaluation technology in order to monitor and respond to online bad actors in real-time.

Hate Observatory
The Hate Observatory is an open access database of far-right activity created in collaboration with MIT’s Civic Media Center.


The Board

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD UK) is registered as a charitable company limited by guarantee (registered charity number 1141069, registered company number 06581421) and was established by a Memorandum of Association on 30 April 2008. You can view all Annual Returns for ISD on the Charity Commission for England and Wales website and on the Companies House website.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue-US (ISD-US) is a non-political, not-for-profit corporation registered in the District of Columbia with 501(c)(3) status. It was formed with Articles of Incorporation on 19 August 2009, with tax identification number 27-1282489.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue gGmbH (ISD Germany) is registered with the companies’ registrar in Berlin, registration AG Berlin-Charlottenburg HRB 207 328B. It was formed on 19 February 2019 with a Deed and Articles of Association and began operations in 2020. The Managing Directors are Huberta von Voss and Sarah Kennedy.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue France (ISD France) is a legal entity under the status of Association de loi 1901, a status granted to not-for-profit organisations across a range of sectors.

The New Institute for Strategic Dialogue for Experimental Research and Development (ISD Jordan) is a non-profit Limited Liability Company registered in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Until 2016, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue was operated through The Trialogue Educational Trust, a sister charity with registered charity number 1076660.

The Team



  • #HalfTheStory is the pioneering non-profit on a mission to empower the next generation’s relationship with technology through research, education, and advocacy.
  • Institute for Strategic Dialogue is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding democracy and human rights and reversing the rising tide of polarization, extremism and disinformation worldwide.


Ivy Barrow

08 October 2023

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