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 homogeneity of right-wing populist and radical content in YouTube recommendations
2020 Röchert, D., Weitzel, M. and Ross, B. Article
The use of social media to disseminate extreme political content on the web, especially right-wing populist propaganda, is no longer a rarity in today's life. Recommendation systems of social platforms, which provide personalized filtering of content, can contribute to users forming homogeneous cocoons around themselves. This study investigates YouTube's recommendations system based on 1,663 German political videos in order to analyze the homogeneity of the related content. After examining two datasets (right-wing populist and politically neutral videos), each consisting of ten initial videos and their first and second level recommendations, we show that there is a high degree of homogeneity of right-wing populist and neutral political content in the recommendation network. These findings offer preliminary evidence on the role of YouTube recommendations in fueling the creation of ideologically like-minded information spaces.
Jumanji Extremism? How Games and Gamification Could Facilitate Radicalization Processes
2020 Schlegel, L. Article
While the last years have seen increased engagement with gaming in relation to extremist attacks, its potential role in facilitating radicalization has received less attention than other factors. This article makes an exploratory contribution to the theoretical foundations of the study of gaming in radicalization research. It is argued that both top-down and bottom up gamification have already impacted extremist discourse and potentially radicalization processes but that research on gamification in other contexts points to a much wider application of gamification to extremist propaganda distribution tools in the future. The potential influence of video games on radicalization processes exceeds the transfer of the popular argument that exposure to violent media leads to desensitization to the context of radicalization and includes the exploitation of pop culture references, increases in self-efficacy regarding violence, and the direct experience of retropian visions through the content of games.
#Hamas: A Thematic Exploration of Hamas’s English-Language Twitter
2020 Margolin, D. Article
As the debate on whether Hamas should be designated a terrorist organization intensifies across Europe and North America, policymakers and practitioners seek to identify the core principles that unify the group and its ideology. This paper contributes to this discussion by examining how Hamas uses Twitter to frame its narrative to English-speakers around the world. From March 2015 until November 2019, when its account was suspended from Twitter, Hamas operated an English-language Twitter handle under the name @HamasInfoEn. Using thematic content analysis to explore the first 2,848 tweets sent by Hamas in English—between March 2015 and March 2018—this paper explores the socio-political and religious narratives that lay at the core of Hamas’s online public diplomacy throughout its first three years on Twitter. Since its entrance into politics in 2006, some academics argue that Hamas has increasingly sought to distance itself from acts of terrorism and legitimize its actions as a governing actor, thereby seeking to carve out a place for itself in the international community. This study presents a nuanced understanding of how Hamas represents itself internationally, to better understand where the group is going, and how to best counter its narratives.
Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online: Results of the 5th monitoring exercise
2020 European Commission Policy
To prevent and counter the spread of illegal hate speech online, in May 2016, the Commission agreed with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube a “Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online”. The implementation of the Code of Conduct is evaluated through a regular monitoring exercise set up in collaboration with a network of organisations located in the different EU countries. Using a commonly agreed methodology, these organisations test how the IT companies are implementing the commitments in the Code.
Combatting Terrorist Propaganda
2020 Ford, P. Article
Propaganda is a common element in many, if not all, terrorist incidents. Objectives are usually to instil fear in the target population but may also include winning approval from associates and inspiring new adherents. The advent of social media has greatly expanded opportunities for achieving these objectives. The attacks on worshipers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March 2019 resulting in the murder of 51 people and the live streaming of the attack on Facebook were met with responses from governments in New Zealand, France and Australia that sought international cooperation in finding effective counter-measures to the propaganda value of the attacks. Australia’s ambitious regulatory approach is problematic when considered in an international context particularly in relation to the need to take account of free speech guarantees. However, since it recognises the need for international solutions in this area, there are opportunities to explore other ways of achieving its objectives.
An Online Environmental Scan of Right-wing Extremism in Canada
2020 Davey, J., Guerin, C. and and Hart, M. Report
This report represents the interim findings of a two-year study designed to increase understanding of the social media footprint of right-wing extremism (RWE) in Canada. This work is part of a larger project designed to understand RWE in Canada led by Ontario Tech University (OTU), in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of New Brunswick. This team are currently working on a similar project designed to map offline RWE in Canada. The project follows a similar study delivered in 2015, enabling researchers and policymakers to understand how RWE has changed in the past five years.
Antisemitism on Twitter: Collective Efficacy and the Role of Community Organisations in Challenging Online Hate Speech
2020 Ozalp, S., Williams, M.L., Burnap, P., Liu, H. and Mostafa, M. Article
In this article, we conduct a comprehensive study of online antagonistic content related to Jewish identity posted on Twitter between October 2015 and October 2016 by UK-based users. We trained a scalable supervised machine learning classifier to identify antisemitic content to reveal patterns of online antisemitism perpetration at the source. We built statistical models to analyze the inhibiting and enabling factors of the size (number of retweets) and survival (duration of retweets) of information flows in addition to the production of online antagonistic content. Despite observing high temporal variability, we found that only a small proportion (0.7%) of the content was antagonistic. We also found that antagonistic content was less likely to disseminate in size or survive for a longer period. Information flows from antisemitic agents on Twitter gained less traction, while information flows emanating from capable and willing counter-speech actors—that is, Jewish organizations—had a significantly higher size and survival rates. This study is the first to demonstrate that Sampson’s classic sociological concept of collective efficacy can be observed on social media (SM). Our findings suggest that when organizations aiming to counter harmful narratives become active on SM platforms, their messages propagate further and achieve greater longevity than antagonistic messages. On SM, counter-speech posted by credible, capable and willing actors can be an effective measure to prevent harmful narratives. Based on our findings, we underline the value of the work by community organizations in reducing the propagation of cyberhate and increasing trust in SM platforms.
Vom Analogen ins Digitale. Eine kurze Geschichte der dschihadistischen Propaganda und ihrer Verbreitung
2020 Zabel, M. Chapter
Der Beitrag bietet eine kurze Einführung in die Geschichte dschihadistischer Propaganda von den 1980er Jahren bis in die Gegenwart. Nicht nur die medientechnologische und -kulturelle Entwicklung, sondern auch geopolitische Konfliktgeschichte mit wichtigen Stationen wie der sowjetischen Intervention in Afghanistan und dem ersten Tschetschenienkrieg sind hier ausschlaggebend. Was die Entwicklung auf dem Feld der Online-Propaganda betrifft, stützt sich der Verfasser auch auf eigenen Erfahrungen im Rahmen der Beobachtung und Analyse dschihadistischer Internet-Auftritte und -Kommunikatverbreitung.
Where Russian Online Nationalists Go When Their Communities are Banned: A Case Study of Russian Nationalism
2020 Kashpur, V.V., Myagkov, M., Baryshev, A.A., Goiko, V.L. and Shchekotin, E.V. Article
This article presents the results of a case study of the online community Russian Nationalism, one of the most popular Russian nationalists’ online communities on VKontakte in 2012–2016. The article aims to find out where network leaders and common members of nationalist online groups closed on the Russian Internet go and in which thematic communities they continue their activity. Russian Nationalism members’ personal profiles and friendly links on VKontakte were used as data sources. The metrics of social network analysis were used to study Russian Nationalism’s network structure. The study showed that the ban of a massive extreme right nationalist online group leads to an increase in the number of smaller shelter groups that retain their ideological basis, but abandon the clearly expressed hate speech; members of a banned nationalist group flow to groups whose content is both close (militaristic, cultural, and historical) and far (everyday) to the extreme right. The content of the latter can transform in line with the nationalist ideology. The case study of Russian Nationalism shows a high potential for diffusion of extreme right nationalist ideas in the Russian network space, which manifests in their ability to penetrate other thematic and ideological areas of public discourse.
Livestreaming the ‘wretched of the Earth’: The Christchurch massacre and the ‘death-bound subject’
2020 Ibrahim, Y. Article
The livestreaming of terror, its co-production through live consumption and the massacre of lives as ‘entertainment’ propelled us into another long abyss of ethical challenges in the case of the xenophobic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. Livestreaming, as part of the convergence of technologies, enables narration in ‘real’ time, dragging us into a new ‘banalisation of evil’ where terror and torture can be co-produced by inviting audiences to consume through the vantage point of the perpetrator. This article examines the Muslim ‘body’ through JanMohamed’s notion of the ‘death-bound subject’ where the continual threat of death foreshadows the Muslim body, imbricating it within a political and ideological archaeology wherein both its possibility of death and the performance of death enter into a realm of theatrics of production incumbent upon invoking new moralities around consumption and its residues as a screen image. The ‘wretched of the Earth’ and their residues as immaterial matter online as the ‘wretched of the screen’ connote a new architecture of violence conjoining the temporalities of liveness with the sharing features of ‘semiotic capitalism’.
Shifts in the Visual Media Campaigns of AQAP and ISIS After High Death and High Publicity Attacks
2020 Winkler, C., McMinimy, K., El-Damanhoury, K. and Almahmoud, M. Article
Extreme militant groups use their media campaigns to share information, recruit and radicalize followers, share worldviews, and seek public diplomacy ends. While previous research documents that various on-the-ground events correspond to changes in the groups’ messaging strategies, studies of how competing militant groups influence one another’s media campaigns are nascent. This study helps fill that gap by examining how successful attacks by one militant group correspond to changes in both the perpetrating and competing groups’ visual media messaging strategies. It examines attack success through the lens of violent acts that result in direct impact (measured through death counts) and indirect impact (measured through traditional media coverage levels). The study utilizes a content analysis of 1882 authority-related images in AQAP’s al-Masra newsletter and ISIS’s al-Naba’ newsletter appearing three issues before and after each attack, and a chi-square analysis comparing four ISIS attack conditions (high death/high media, high death/low media, low death/high media, and low death/low media). The findings show that a high number of resulting deaths, rather than a high level of media coverage, correspond to changes in the media campaigns of both the perpetrators and the competing groups, with key differences in visual content based on group identity.
Digital Resilience Tactics of Syrian Refugees in the Netherlands: Social Media for Social Support, Health, and Identity
2020 Udwan, G., Leurs, K. and Alencar, A. Article
The process of adjusting to a new country may carry important stressors for refugees. In the light of neoliberal policies, refugees are expected to become resilient in a local arrival infrastructure and perform a specific subjectivity based on gratefulness, adaptability, and digital sensitivity to successfully integrate. Drawing on a qualitative, in-depth case study with Syrians living in the Netherlands, this article explores the impact of the retreat of the welfare state and unfolding digital transitions on resilience tactics of marginalized people like refugees. While recognizing the systemic violence and historic trauma many refugees have experienced, we focus on how refugees are expected to and develop ways to become resilient. Three digital resilience tactics are discussed: digital social support, digital health, and digital identities. Social support was mainly sought from family, friends, organizations, and social media platforms, whereas refugees’ engagement in meaningful digital practices aimed at fostering health promotion and identity management. Our fieldwork resurfaces paradoxes of digital resilience as described by careful emotional digital labor refugees engage in when communicating with families, the role of socio-cultural factors in shaping refugees’ ICT (information and communication technology) adoption and use for health support, and negotiation of different and conflicting identity axes online. Finally, our study provides some insights into the implementation of more effective online and offline practices in the context of social and health support by host countries.
The Lure of (Violent) Extremism: Gender Constructs in Online Recruitment and Messaging in Indonesia
2020 Johnston, M.F. Article
The gender dimension of violent extremism is under-studied; and “women terrorists” are stereotyped as either men’s dupes or (internet) warriors. Applying a gender lens, this study uses content analysis to examine Islamist extremist websites in Indonesia. Analysis reveals distinct recruitment language targeted at women and men, and rigid gender segregation of content and spaces. Extremists co-opt the language of women’s rights while also promoting gender-discriminatory harmful practices with the intent of establishing what they consider to be a more devout Islamic state. Gender analysis of online extremism has implications for strategies to counter and prevent radicalization to violence.
Wie Extrem ist die Rechte in Europa? Untersuchung von Überschneidungen in der deutschen Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter
2020 Ahmed, R. and Pisoiu, D. VOX-Pol Publication
Ziel dieser Arbeit ist es, die Überschneidungen in der Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter zu ermitteln und insbesondere festzustellen, inwieweit verschiedene Gruppen in der Szene tatsächlich auf die gleiche Weise über dieselben Themen sprechen, trotz offensichtlicher Unterschiede im Tonfall und den zugrunde liegenden Ideologien. Wir verwenden einen Mischmethodenansatz: Zunächst wollen wir einen oberflächlichen Einblick in die extrem rechte Szene auf Twitter in ganz Europa gewinnen, und dann führen wir bei drei ausgewählten Gruppen in Deutschland eine detaillierte Frame-Analyse aus, um die impliziten und expliziten Überschneidungen zwischen ihnen zu bestimmen und so die quantitativen Angaben zu ergänzen, damit die Bedeutung detailliert analysiert werden kann.
Analyzing predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors of militancy through declassified interrogation summaries: A case study
2020 Aggarwal, N.K. Article
Researchers and policymakers have supported a public health approach to countering violent extremism throughout the War on Terror. However, barriers to obtaining primary data include concerns from minority groups about stigmatization, the ethics of harming research subjects by exposing them to violent content, and restrictions on researchers from institutions and governments. Textual analyses of declassified documents from government agencies may overcome these barriers. This article contributes a method for analyzing the predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors of terrorism through open source texts. This method is applied to FBI interrogation summaries of Al Qaeda terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted an attack aboard an airplane in 2009. This analysis shows that consuming militant content online led him to narrow his social relationships offline to extremists and foster identifications with subjugated Muslims around the world. After deciding to wage militancy, loyalty to Al Qaeda members, swearing allegiance to and obeying group leaders, and interpreting religious texts militantly perpetuated violent activities. Such work can advance empirical work on militant behavior to develop interventions.
Online Extremism
2020 The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Report
The internet can leave users vulnerable to social challenges, which creates opportunities for extremism to spread. Users can be exposed to extremism in multiple ways, including through recruitment and socialisation. Extremist content may be found on mainstream social media sites and ‘alt-tech’ platforms, which replicate the functions of mainstream social media but have been created or co-opted for the unconventional needs of specific users. Automatic detection can be used to moderate extremist content on a large scale. However, this is prone to false positives and may disproportionately impact a particular group, which can fuel mistrust in the state. Many stakeholders believe that current counter-extremism responses are too focused on law and technology, and do not address the underlying reasons that people are drawn to extremist content. Individual and societal interventions aim to identify underlying socio-economic and cultural contributors and implement protective factors to reduce how many people develop extremist views.
It's a Man's World: Carnal Spectatorship and Dissonant Masculinities in Islamic State Videos
2020 Crone, M. Article
Islamic State videos have often been associated with savage violence and beheadings. An in-depth scrutiny however reveals another striking feature: that female bodies are absent, blurred or mute. Examining a few Islamic State videos in depth, the article suggests that the invisibility of women in tandem with the ostentatious visibility of male bodies enable gendered and embodied spectators to indulge in homoerotic as well as heterosexual imaginaries. In contrast to studies on visual security and online radicalization which assert that images affect an audience, this article focuses on the interaction between video and audience and argues that spectators are not only rational and emotional but embodied and gendered as well. Islamic State videos do not only attract western foreign fighters through religious–ideological rhetoric or emotional impact but also through gendered forms of pleasure and desire that enable carnal imagination and identification. The article probes the analytical purchase of carnal aesthetics and spectatorship.
Country-Level Report on Drivers of Self-Radicalisation and Digital Sociability
2020 Dechesne, M., Nilsen, A.B. and Paton, N. Report
In this report, we present an empirical study from Twitter on how Islamist extremists and right wing extremists are active on Twitter. Our study was based on ethnographic, automatic text and network analyses of data from German female and male Twitter accounts.
This is Not a Game: How Steam Harbors Extremists
2020 Anti-Defamation League Report
Steam, the largest and most important online store for PC gamers with over $4 Billion in revenue in 2017, has recently gained popularity among white supremacists for being a platform, like Gab and Telegram, where they can openly express their ideology and calls for violence. The difference between Steam and social media platforms like Telegram or Gab is that while the latter do not share a formal business relationship with the wider social media industry, Steam has direct and lucrative relationships with most major game companies, including 2K, Electronic Arts, Xbox Game Studios, Ubisoft and others. Many of these game companies have made public statements about and dedicated significant resources towards keeping their products safe from the kinds of hateful ideologies espoused by extremists -- while continuing to work with Steam.
Countering Terrorist Narratives Online and Offline
2020 United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate Report
The present Analytical Brief was prepared by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in accordance with Security Council resolution 2395 (2017), which directs CTED to conduct analytical work on emerging issues, trends and developments and to make its analytical products available throughout the United Nations system.

Terrorist groups have always sought to radicalize others (especially young people) to violence. However, over the past decade, their propaganda and radicalization efforts have occurred at greater speed and with a bigger range, a process facilitated by the fastest, broadest expansion of mass communications in human history. As a consequence, Member States have been forced to expand their efforts to combat terrorist communications beyond merely blocking or removing online terrorist propaganda and have increasingly emphasized countering terrorist narratives. In May 2017, the Security Council adopted its resolution 2354 (2017), which welcomed the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s “Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives.” In accordance with the Framework, Member States and other stakeholders should not only emphasize terrorists’ inhumanity and the flaws in their arguments, but also develop positive or alternative narratives that promote a holistic worldview and encourage non-violent pathways to address grievances and feelings of powerlessness and alienation.
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