Welcome to VOX-Pol’s Online Library, a research and teaching resource, which collects in one place a large volume of publications related to various aspects of violent online political extremism.

Our searchable database contains material in a variety of different formats including downloadable PDFs, videos, and audio files comprising e-books, book chapters, journal articles, research reports, policy documents and reports, and theses.

All open access material collected in the Library is easy to download. Where the publications are only accessible through subscription, the Library will take you to the publisher’s page from where you can access the material.

We will continue to add more material as it becomes available with the aim of making it the most comprehensive online Library in this field.

If you have any material you think belongs in the Library—whether your own or another authors—please contact us at and we will consider adding it to the Library. It is also our aim to make the Library a truly inclusive multilingual facility and we thus welcome contributions in all languages.


Full Listing

The hidden hierarchy of far-right digital guerrilla warfare
2021 Cesarino, L. and Nardelli, P.H.J. Article
The polarizing tendency of politically leaned social media is usually claimed to be spontaneous, or a by-product of underlying platform algorithms. This contribution revisits both claims by articulating the digital world of social media and rules derived from capitalist accumulation in the post-Fordist age, from a transdisciplinary perspective articulating the human and exact sciences. Behind claims of individual freedom, there is a rigid pyramidal hierarchy of power heavily using military techniques developed in the late years of the cold war, namely Russia Reflexive Control and the Boyd’s decision cycle in the USA. This hierarchy is not the old-style “command-and-control” from Fordist times, but an “emergent” one, whereby individual agents respond to informational stimuli, coordinated to move as a swarm. Such a post-Fordist organizational structure resembles guerrilla warfare. In this new world, it is the far right who plays the revolutionaries by deploying avant-garde guerrilla methods, while the so-called left paradoxically appears as conservatives defending the existing structure of exploitation. Although the tactical goal is unclear, the strategic objective of far-right guerrillas is to hold on to power and benefit particular groups to accumulate more capital. We draw examples from the Brazilian far right to support our claims.
Do You See What I See? Capabilities and Limits of Automated Multimedia Content Analysis
2021 Thakur, D. and Llansó, E. Report
The ever-increasing amount of user-generated content online has led, in recent years, to an expansion in research and investment in automated content analysis tools. Scrutiny of automated content analysis has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as social networking services have placed a greater reliance on these tools due to concerns about health risks to their moderation staff from in-person work. At the same time, there are important policy debates around the world about how to improve content moderation while protecting free expression and privacy. In order to advance these debates, we need to understand the potential role of automated content analysis tools.

This paper explains the capabilities and limitations of tools for analyzing online multimedia content and highlights the potential risks of using these tools at scale without accounting for their limitations. It focuses on two main categories of tools: matching models and computer prediction models. Matching models include cryptographic and perceptual hashing, which compare user-generated content with existing and known content. Predictive models (including computer vision and computer audition) are machine learning techniques that aim to identify characteristics of new or previously unknown content.
Leaking in terrorist attacks: A review
2021 Dudenhoefer, A.L., Niesse, C., Görgen, T., Tampe, L., Megler, M., Gröpler, C. and Bondü, R. Article
In the recent past, the numbers of religiously- and politically-motivated terrorist attacks have increased, inevitably raising the question of effective measures to prevent further terrorist attacks. Empirical studies related to school shootings have shown that school shooters reliably (directly and indirectly) disclosed their intentions or plans prior to the attack, a phenomenon termed leaking or leakage. Leaking has been used for preventive purposes in this area of research. Recent research has indicated that leaking was also present prior to politically and religiously motivated terrorist attacks. In order to determine the current state of knowledge about leaking related to these offenses, we conducted a review of the international literature on religiously and politically motivated terrorist attacks. Up to 90% of the offenders showed some type of leaking prior to the attacks. A range of different forms of leaking could be observed. Leaking often occurred in the form of verbal communication with family and friends and/or via communication over the Internet. Terrorist offenders apparently tend to show leaking more often than other groups of mass murderers. Findings regarding similarities and dissimilarities in leaking between religiously motivated, jihadist and politically-motivated, far-right terrorist attacks were contradictory. We discuss the implications of these findings for practice and research as well as the strengths and possible weaknesses of the leaking concept.
Hidden order across online extremist movements can be disrupted by nudging collective chemistry
2021 Velásquez, N., Manrique, P., Sear, R., Leahy, R., Restrepo, N.J., Illari, L., Lupu, Y. and Johnson, N.F. Article
Disrupting the emergence and evolution of potentially violent online extremist movements is a crucial challenge. Extremism research has analyzed such movements in detail, focusing on individual- and movement-level characteristics. But are there system-level commonalities in the ways these movements emerge and grow? Here we compare the growth of the Boogaloos, a new and increasingly prominent U.S. extremist movement, to the growth of online support for ISIS, a militant, terrorist organization based in the Middle East that follows a radical version of Islam. We show that the early dynamics of these two online movements follow the same mathematical order despite their stark ideological, geographical, and cultural differences. The evolution of both movements, across scales, follows a single shockwave equation that accounts for heterogeneity in online interactions. These scientific properties suggest specific policies to address online extremism and radicalization. We show how actions by social media platforms could disrupt the onset and ‘flatten the curve’ of such online extremism by nudging its collective chemistry. Our results provide a system-level understanding of the emergence of extremist movements that yields fresh insight into their evolution and possible interventions to limit their growth.
Identifying Key Players in Violent Extremist Networks: Using Socio-Semantic Network Analysis as Part of a Program of Content Moderation
2021 Bérubé, M., Beaulieu, L.A., Mongeau, P. and Saint-Charles, J. Article
Some moderation strategies of online content have targeted the individuals believed to be the most influential in the diffusion of such material, while others have focused on censorship of the content itself. Few approaches consider these two aspects simultaneously. The present study addresses this gap by showing how a socio-semantic network analysis can help identify individuals and subgroups who are strategically positioned in radical networks and whose comments encourage the use of violence. It also made it possible to identify the individuals and subgroups who act as intermediaries and whose statements are often the most violent.
Examining Online Indicators of Extremism in Violent Right-Wing Extremist Forums
2021 Scrivens, R., Osuna, A.I., Chermak, S.M., Whitney, M.A. and Frank, R. Article
Although many law enforcement and intelligence agencies are concerned about online communities known to facilitate violent right-wing extremism, little is empirically known about the presence of extremist ideologies, expressed grievances, or violent mobilization efforts that make up these spaces. In this study, we conducted a content analysis of a sample of postings from two of the most conspicuous right-wing extremist forums known for facilitating violent extremism, Iron March and Fascist Forge. We identified a number of noteworthy posting patterns within and across forums that may assist law enforcement and intelligence agencies in identifying credible threats online.
The Cloud Caliphate: Archiving the Islamic State in Real-Time
2021 Ayad, M., Amarasingam, A. and Alexander, A. Report
This joint report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point offers a preliminary survey and analysis of one of the largest known online repositories of Islamic State materials in order to increase understanding of how violent extremist groups and their supporters manage, preserve, and protect information relevant to their cause. Seemingly managed by sympathizers of the Islamic State, the large cache of digital files, here nicknamed the “Cloud Caliphate,” provides researchers, policymakers, and counterterrorism practitioners additional insights into how and why groups and their adherents maintain archives of such material.
The core analysis breaks into seven different parts. After reviewing the likely origins of the repository, the first section describes its composition, and the second discusses evidence concerning cyber support from other online actors. Sections three through six explore specific folders within the archive, which pertain to matters concerning the Islamic State’s organizational predecessors and a range of notable leaders, ideologues, and scholars. Section seven of the report highlights a real-world case involving the use of the “Cloud Caliphate” archive by an Islamic State supporter. The report concludes with a reflective discussion that notes potential policy considerations for those tasked with confronting the Islamic State’s exploitation of information and communications technologies.
US Extremism on Telegram: Fueling Disinformation, Conspiracy Theories, and Accelerationism
2021 Walther, S. and McCoy, A. Article
Several alternative social media platforms have emerged in response to perceptions that mainstream platforms are censoring traditional conservative ideologies. However, many of these alternative social media platforms have evolved to be outlets for hate speech and violent extremism. This study examines hate-based channels on Telegram from a US perspective. While Telegram has often been studied in relation to ISIS, less is known about its usage by US extremist users and movements. The authors used OSINT and observational methods on a sample of 125 Telegram channels containing hate speech and violent extremist content from far-right and far-left perspectives. The authors hypothesized that there would be a greater and growing presence of far-right activity compared to farleft activity due to current migration trends away from mainstream social media by the far-right. The authors also sought to observe the presence of disinformation campaigns, conspiracy theories, and accelerationism on Telegram. This study had four major findings: (1) the findings supported the hypothesis that more channels were host to farright dialogues, yet there were several far-left channels present, (2) 64.8% of the channels grew in size over a oneweek period, (3) 47 of the 125 channels were connected to well-known violent extremist movements or hate groups, and (4) QAnon and the COVID-19 pandemic were the most prominent sources of disinformation and conspiracy theories on Telegram. The findings of this study highlight that alternative social media platforms are a growing environment for a range of hateful ideologies and are aiding the spread of disinformation campaigns. This study concludes with a discussion on future strategies to combat the influence of the Internet on radicalization outcomes.
GAFAM and Hate Content Moderation: Deplatforming and Deleting the Alt-right
2021 Mirrlees, T. Article
Purpose – This chapter demonstrates the power that Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (or the “GAFAM”) exercise over platforms within society, highlights the alt-right’s use of GAFAM sites and services as a platform for hate, and examines GAFAM’s establishment and use of hate content moderation apparatuses to de-platform alt-right users and delete hate content. Approach – Drawing upon a political economy of communications approach, this chapter demonstrates GAFAM’s power in society. It also undertakes a reading of GAFAM “terms of service agreements” and “community guidelines” documents to identify GAFAM hate content moderation apparatuses. Findings – GAFAM are among the most powerful platforms in the world, and their content moderation apparatuses are empowered by the US government’s cyber-libertarian approach to Internet law and regulation. GAFAM are defining hate speech, deciding what’s to be done about it, and censoring it. Value – This chapter probes GAFAM’s hate content moderation apparatuses for Internet platforms, and shows how GAFAM enable and constrain the alt-right’s hate speech on their platforms. It also reflexively assesses the politics of empowering GAFAM to de-platform the alt-right.
Mapping Global Cyberterror Networks: An Empirical Study of Al-Qaeda and ISIS Cyberterrorism Events
2021 Lee, C.S., Choi, K.S., Shandler, R. and Kayser, C., Article
This study explores the internal dynamics and networks of terrorist groups in cyberspace—in particular, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Using a “Global Cyberterrorism Dataset” that features data on cyberterror attacks between 2011 and 2016, this research analyzes these two terrorist groups through the lens of a cyber-conflict theory that integrates conflict theory with Jaishankar’s space transition theory. Through a network analysis methodology, we examine the invisible relationships and connections between the national origins and target countries of cyberterror attacks. The analysis focuses on the networks of national origins of terrorists and victims, network structures of Al-Qaeda and ISIS actors, and clustering networks of Al-Qaeda and ISIS cyberterrorists. Results indicate that terror in cyberspace is ubiquitous, more flexible than traditional terrorism, and that cyberattacks mostly occurred within the countries of origin. We conclude by discussing the complex features of cyberterror networks and identify some of the geostrategic implications of the divergent cyber strategies adopted by Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Layers of Lies: A First Look at Irish Far-Right Activity on Telegram
2021 Gallagher, A. and O’Connor, C. Report
This report aims to provide a first look into Irish far-right activity on the messaging app, Telegram, where the movement is operating both as identifiable groups and influencers, and anonymously-run channels and groups.

The report looks at the activity across 34 such Telegram channels through the lens of a series of case studies where content posted on these channels resulted in real life consequences. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the report examines the tactics, language and trends within these channels, providing much-needed detail on the activity of the Irish far-right online.
From Bombs to Books, and Back Again? Mapping Strategies of Right-Wing Revolutionary Resistance
2021 Ravndal, J.A. Article
This article begins by outlining four post-WWII strategies of right-wing revolutionary resistance: vanguardism; the cell system; leaderless resistance; and metapolitics. Next, the article argues that metapolitics became a preferred strategy for many right-wing revolutionaries during the 2000s and early 2010s, and proposes three conditions that may help explain this metapolitical turn: limited opportunities for armed resistance; a subcultural style shift; and new opportunities for promoting alternative worldviews online. Finally, the article theorizes about the types of threats that may emerge in the wake of this metapolitical turn, and speculates about the likelihood of a new and more violent turn in the near future.
The Domestic Extremist Next Door: How Digital Platforms Enable the War Against American Government
2021 Digital Citizens Alliance Report
Digital platforms enabled the disturbing rise of domestic extremism, culminating with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Militia groups use social media networks to plan operations, recruit new members, and spread anti-democracy propaganda, a new Digital Citizens Alliance (Digital Citizens) and Coalition for a Safer Web (CSW) investigation has found.
Detecting Markers of Radicalisation in Social Media Posts: Insights From Modified Delphi Technique and Literature Review
2021 Neo, L.S. Article
This study involved the creation of factors and indicators that can detect radicalization in social media posts. A concurrent approach of an expert knowledge acquisition process (modified Delphi technique) and literature review was utilized. Seven Singapore subject-matter experts in the field of terrorism evaluated factors that were collated from six terrorism risk assessment tools (ERG 22+, IVP, TRAP-18, MLG, VERA-2, and Cyber-VERA). They identify those that are of most considerable relevance for detecting radicalization in social media posts. A parallel literature review on online radicalization was conducted to complement the findings from the expert panel. In doing so, 12 factors and their 42 observable indicators were derived. These factors and indicators have the potential to guide the development of cyber-focused screening tools to detect radicalization in social media posts.
New Models for Deploying Counterspeech: Measuring Behavioral Change and Sentiment Analysis
2021 Saltman, E., Kooti, F. and Vockery, K. Article
The counterterrorism and CVE community has long questioned the effectiveness of counterspeech in countering extremism online. While most evaluation of counterspeech rely on limited reach and engagement metrics, this paper explores two models to better measure behavioral change and sentiment analysis. Conducted via partnerships between Facebook and counter-extremism NGOs, the first model uses A/B testing to analyze the effects of counterspeech exposure on low-prevalence-high-risk audiences engaging with Islamist extremist terrorist content. The second model builds upon online safety intervention approaches and the Redirect Method through a search based “get-help” module, redirecting white-supremacy and Neo-Nazi related search-terms to disengagement NGOs.
Mobilizing extremism online: comparing Australian and Canadian right-wing extremist groups on Facebook
2021 Hutchinson, J., Amarasingam, A., Scrivens, R. and Ballsun-Stanton, B. Article
Right-wing extremist groups harness popular social media platforms to accrue and mobilize followers. In recent years, researchers have examined the various themes and narratives espoused by extremist groups in the United States and Europe, and how these themes and narratives are employed to mobilize their followings on social media. Little, however, is comparatively known about how such efforts unfold within and between right-wing extremist groups in Australia and Canada. In this study, we conducted a cross-national comparative analysis of over eight years of online content found on 59 Australian and Canadian right-wing group pages on Facebook. Here we assessed the level of active and passive user engagement with posts and identified certain themes and narratives that generated the most user engagement. Overall, a number of ideological and behavioral commonalities and differences emerged in regard to patterns of active and passive user engagement, and the character of three prevailing themes: methods of violence, and references to national and racial identities. The results highlight the influence of both the national and transnational context in negotiating which themes and narratives resonate with Australian and Canadian right-wing online communities, and the multi-dimensional nature of right-wing user engagement and social mobilization on social media.
New Models for Deploying Counterspeech: Measuring Behavioral Change and Sentiment Analysis
2021 Saltman, E., Kooti, F. and Vockery, K. Article
The counterterrorism and CVE community has long questioned the effectiveness of counterspeech in countering extremism online. While most evaluation of counterspeech rely on limited reach and engagement metrics, this paper explores two models to better measure behavioral change and sentiment analysis. Conducted via partnerships between Facebook and counter-extremism NGOs, the first model uses A/B testing to analyze the effects of counterspeech exposure on low-prevalence-high-risk audiences engaging with Islamist extremist terrorist content. The second model builds upon online safety intervention approaches and the Redirect Method
through a search based “get-help” module, redirecting whitesupremacy and Neo-Nazi related search-terms to disengagement NGOs.
The Case of Jihadology and the Securitization of Academia
2021 Zelin, A.Y. Article
This paper goes to the heart of this special issue by exploring the case of the web site, Jihadology, which the author founded and has managed for the past ten-plus years. It explores various issues including why such a site is necessary and/or useful, questions about dissemination and open access, lessons learned about responsibility and interaction with jihadis online, the evolution of the website that has the largest repository of jihadi content, interactions with governments and technology companies and how they viewed and dealt with the website. The paper also explores how the experience gained might help other researchers interested in creating primary source-first websites to assist in their research as well as to the benefit of others in the field. Therefore, this paper aims to shed light not only on this unique case, but also on the moral and ethical questions that have arisen through maintaining the Jihadology website for more than a decade in a time of changing online environments and more recent calls for censorship.
Online Extremism and Terrorism Research Ethics: Researcher Safety, Informed Consent, and the Need for Tailored Guidelines
2021 Conway, M. Article
This article reflects on two core issues of human subjects’ research ethics and how they play out for online extremism and terrorism researchers. Medical research ethics, on which social science research ethics are based, centers the protection of research subjects, but what of the protection of researchers? Greater attention to researcher safety, including online security and privacy and mental and emotional wellbeing, is called for herein. Researching hostile or dangerous communities does not, on the other hand, exempt us from our responsibilities to protect our research subjects, which is generally ensured via informed consent. This is complicated in data-intensive research settings, especially with the former type of communities, however. Also grappled with in this article therefore are the pros and cons of waived consent and deception and the allied issue of prevention of harm to subjects in online extremism and terrorism research. The best path forward it is argued—besides talking through the diversity of ethical issues arising in online extremism and terrorism research and committing our thinking and decision-making around them to paper to a much greater extent than we have done to-date—may be development of ethics guidelines tailored to our sub-field.
Online Extremism Detection: A Systematic Literature Review With Emphasis on Datasets, Classification Techniques, Validation Methods, and Tools
2021 Gaikwad, M., Ahirrao, S., Phansalkar, S. and Kotecha, K. Article
Social media platforms are popular for expressing personal views, emotions and beliefs. Social media platforms are influential for propagating extremist ideologies for group-building, fund-raising, and recruitment. To monitor and control the outreach of extremists on social media, detection of extremism in social media is necessary. The existing extremism detection literature on social media is limited by specific ideology, subjective validation methods, and binary or tertiary classification. A comprehensive and comparative survey of datasets, classification techniques, validation methods with online extremism detection tool is essential. The systematic literature review methodology (PRISMA) was used. Sixty-four studies on extremism research were collected, including 31 from SCOPUS, Web of Science (WoS), ACM, IEEE, and 33 thesis, technical and analytical reports using Snowballing technique. The survey highlights the role of social media in propagating online radicalization and the need for extremism detection on social media platforms. The review concludes lack of publicly available, class-balanced, and unbiased datasets for better detection and classification of social-media extremism. Lack of validation techniques to evaluate correctness and quality of custom data sets without human interventions, was found. The information retrieval unveiled that contemporary research work is prejudiced towards ISIS ideology. We investigated that deep learning based automated extremism detection techniques outperform other techniques. The review opens the research opportunities for developing an online, publicly available automated tool for extremism data collection and detection. The survey results in conceptualization of architecture for construction of multi-ideology extremism text dataset with robust data validation techniques for multiclass classification of extremism text.
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