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

Researching far right groups on Twitter: Methodological challenges 2.0
2018Crosset, V., Tanner, S. and Campana, AArticle
The Internet poses a number of challenges for academics. Internet specificities such as anonymity, the decontextualisation of discourse, the misuse or non-use of references raise methodological questions about the quality and the authenticity of the data available online. This is particularly true when dealing with extremist groups and grass-root militants that cultivate secrecy. Based on a study of the far-right on Twitter, this article explores these methodological issues. It discusses the qualitative indicators we have developed to determine whether a given Twitter account should be included in the sample or not. By using digital traces drawn from profiles, interactions, content and through other visual information, we recontextualize user’s profile and analyze how digital traces participate in providing far right ideas with a wider representation.
Expressing and Challenging Racist Discourse on Facebook: How Social Media Weaken the “Spiral of Silence” Theory
2019Chaudhry, I. and Gruzd, A.Article
This article examines the discursive practices of Facebook users who use the platform to express racist views. We analyzed 51,991 public comments posted to 119 news stories about race, racism, or ethnicity on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Facebook page. We examined whether users who hold racist viewpoints (the vocal minority) are less likely to express views that go against the majority view for fear of social isolation. According to the “spiral of silence” theory, the vocal minority would presumably fear this isolation effect. However, our analysis shows that on Facebook, a predominantly nonanonymous and moderated platform, the vocal minority are comfortable expressing unpopular views, questioning the explanatory power of this popular theory in the online context. Based on automated analysis of 8,636 comments, we found 64 percent mentioned race or ethnicity, and 18 percent exhibited some form of othering. A manual coding of 1,161 comments showed that 18 percent exhibited some form of othering, and 25 percent countered the racist discourse. In sum, while Facebook provides space to express racist discourse, users also turn to this platform to counter the hateful narratives.
Visual Jihad: Constructing the “Good Muslim” in Online Jihadist Magazines
2019MacDonald, S. and Lorenzo-Dus, NuriaArticle
Images are known to have important effects on human perception and persuasion. Jihadist groups are also known to make strategic use of emotive imagery and symbolism for persuasive ends. Yet until recently studies of the online magazines published by violent jihadist groups largely focused on their textual, not their image, content and, while the image content of these magazines is now the subject of a burgeoning number of studies, few of these compare the images used by different groups. This article accordingly offers a cross-group comparison, examining the image content of a total of thirty-nine issues of five online magazines published by four different jihadist groups. Starting with a content analysis, it shows that the images’ most common focus is non-leader jihadis. Using a news values analysis, it then shows how these images of non-leader jihadis are used to visually construct the identity of a “good Muslim.” This construct is characterized by three traits, each corresponding to a different news value: fulfilled (personalization); active (consonance); and respected (prominence). Moreover, these traits are intertwined: fulfillment comes from responding actively to the call to violent jihad, which in turn promises respect. The article concludes by highlighting some subtle differences between how the news values of personalization, consonance, and prominence are realized in the different magazines, and by discussing the implications of the “good Muslim” construct for efforts to develop countermessages.
Imagined Communities and the Radicalization of Second Generation Muslim Women in the United Kingdom
2016Comeau, K. A.MA Thesis
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) concerns itself with the issue of its citizens becoming radicalized and joining extremist groups. Daesh is one such group that is able to attract people from varying backgrounds to commit violent acts of terror. Moreover, Daesh encourages those in the West to migrate to their controlled territory to participate in the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq. The group relies on women to participate in this migration so that they can marry jihadis and raise the next generation of supporters. This
paper examines how Daesh radicalizes these women, specifically second-generation Muslim women in the UK. Daesh uses social media to radicalize recruits and this holds true in their strategy for incorporating women into their self-declared caliphate. Once women have migrated to Daesh-controlled territory, they themselves act as radicalization agents via social media. This paper uses Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities as a way of formulating how Daesh constructs its own community through pseudo-nationalism that is able to radicalize young people in the West who are part of a diasporic group and do not have particularly strong ties to their ancestral culture and religion. To facilitate the radicalization of secondgeneration Muslim women in the UK, Daesh uses social media to establish a particular image of the caliphate through this pseudo-nationalism. This paper uses a case study of Amira Abase, Shamima Begum, and Kadiza Sultana, or the ‘Bethnal Green Girls’, to explore the radicalization of SGMW via social media.
Trends of Anashid Usage in Da‘esh Video Messaging and Implications for Identifying Terrorist Audio and Video
2018Pieslak, J., Pieslak, B. and Lemieux, A. F.Article
This article examines how Da‘esh utilizes anashid (“Islamic songs” or “recitation”) as soundtrack elements within its video messaging, focusing primarily on a sample set of 755 videos released in 2015. The authors also present the development of an automatic content recognition (ACR) tool that enabled them to engage this large data set. The article then explores the possibilities of ACR for the identification of terrorist audio and video, utilizing the conclusions drawn from the trends of audio usage in Da‘esh video messaging to support the validity and promise of such an approach.

"The Lions Of Tomorrow" A News Value Analysis Of Child Images In Jihadi Magazines
2018Watkin, A. and Looney, S.Article
This article reports and discusses the results of a study that investigated photographic images of children in five online terrorist magazines to understand the roles of children in these groups. The analysis encompasses issues of Inspire, Dabiq, Jihad Recollections (JR), Azan, and Gaidi Mtanni (GM) from 2009 to 2016. The total number of images was ninety-four. A news value framework was applied that systematically investigated what values the images held that resulted in them being “newsworthy” enough to be published. This article discusses the key findings, which were that Dabiq distinguished different roles for boys and girls, portrayed fierce and prestigious boy child perpetrators, and children flourishing under the caliphate; Inspire and Azan focused on portraying children as victims of Western-backed warfare; GM portrayed children supporting the cause peacefully; and JR contained no re-occurring findings.
The Ungovernability of Digital Hate Culture
2018Ganesh, B.Article
Social media and the Internet play an important role in the proliferation of hateful and extreme speech. Looking to contemporary networks of digitally mediated extreme right-wing communication, this essay explores the form, dynamics, and potential governance of digital hate culture. It focuses on the cultural practices and imagination present in the networks of digital hate culture to illuminate how two frames, the Red Pill and white genocide, unify the different groups that take part in these networks. After providing a high-level overview of these networks, this essay explains three formal features of digital hate culture that make it ungovernable: its swarm structure, its exploitation of inconsistencies in web governance between different actors, and its use of coded language to avoid moderation by government or private sector actors. By outlining its cultural style and ungovernable features, this essay provides policy professionals and researchers with an understanding of contemporary digital hate culture and provides suggestions for future approaches to consider when attempting to counter and disrupt the networks on which it depends.
Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism A Case Study of the Redirect Method
2018Helmus, C. T., Klein, K.Featured
The number of programs dedicated to countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown in recent years, yet a fundamental gap remains in the understanding of the effectiveness of such programs. This is particularly the case for CVE campaigns, which are increasingly conducted in the online space. The goal of this report is to help CVE campaign planners better evaluate the impact of online efforts. It reviews prior assessments of online CVE campaigns, provides recommendations for future assessments, and provides a case study of one particular CVE campaign — the Redirect Method. A limited evaluation of the Redirect Method process variables suggests that the implementers are able to use advertisements linking to counterextremist videos to effectively expose individuals searching for violent jihadist or violent far-right content to content that offers alternative narratives. Users clicked on these ads at a rate on par with industry standards. However, as is the case with other CVE evaluations, this partial evaluation did not assess the impact of the video content on user attitudes or behavior. The potentially highly radical nature of the Redirect Method's target audience makes evaluation of the campaign particularly complicated and therefore might necessitate the recruitment of former extremists to help gauge audience response. Alternatively, it might be advisable to analyze user comments to understand how a subsample of users respond to the content.
Radikal Online - Das Internet und die Radikalisierung von Jugendlichen: eine Metaanalyse zum Forschungsfeld
2018Knipping-Sorokin, R., Stumpf, T.Featured
Der Beitrag befasst sich mit dem Einfluss des Internets auf Meinungsbildungsprozesse in Gestalt von Radikalisierung Jugendlicher in Deutschland. Dafür wird in einer metaanalytischen
Vorgehensweise das Forschungsfeld zu Online-Radikalisierung im deutschen Forschungsdiskurs, ergänzt durch relevante internationale Befunde, genau sondiert und aufgeschlüsselt. Wie
sich zeigt, ist das bestehende Wissen dazu äußerst bruchstückhaft; lediglich einzelne Facetten wurden im komplexen Zusammenwirken vieler Faktoren eines Radikalisierungsverlaufs bisher
untersucht. Um mehr über die Hintergründe zu Online-Radikalisierung Jugendlicher zu erfahren, besteht die Notwendigkeit eines interdisziplinären und multimethodischen Vorgehens,
zu dem insbesondere die Kulturanthropologie mit ihren Methoden und emischen Perspektiven auf lebensweltliche Zusammenhänge einen wichtigen Beitrag leisten kann. Die vorliegende
Metaanalyse bietet neben einer theoretischen Fundierung und begrifflichen Einordnung eine strukturierte Statusaufnahme und Auswertung der aktuellen Forschungslandschaft
zu der Rolle des Internets auf die Radikalisierung von jungen Menschen. Die Arbeit identifiziert Erkenntnisse und zeigt aktuelle Forschungsdesiderata auf. Die vorliegende Studie bietet
somit einen systematischen Überblick über die deutsche Forschungslandschaft und kann als Grundlage für weitere Forschung auf diesem Bereich genutzt werden.
Countering Online Propaganda and Extremism: The Dark Side of Digital Diplomacy
2018Bjola, C., Pamment, J.Book
Exploring the ‘dark side’ of digital diplomacy, this volume highlights some of the major problems facing democratic institutions in the West and provides concrete examples of best practice in reversing the tide of digital propaganda.
Digital diplomacy is now part of the regular conduct of International Relations, but Information Warfare is characterised by the exploitation or weaponisation of media systems to undermine confidence in institutions: the resilience of open, democratic discourse is tested by techniques such as propaganda, disinformation, fake news, trolling and conspiracy theories. This book introduces a thematic framework by which to better understand the nature and scope of the threats that the weaponization of digital technologies increasingly pose to Western societies. The editors instigate interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration between scholars and practitioners on the purpose, methods and impact of strategic communication in the Digital Age and its diplomatic implications. What opportunities and challenges does strategic communication face in the digital context? What diplomatic implications need to be considered when governments employ strategies for countering disinformation and propaganda? Exploring such issues, the contributors demonstrate that responses to the weaponisation of digital technologies must be tailored to the political context that make it possible for digital propaganda to reach and influence vulnerable publics and audiences.
Structuring of the Terrorism Problem in the Digital Age: A Systems Perspective
2018Odhiambi Achieng, N., Ochara Muganda, N., Kadymatimba, A.Report
Terrorism is a global challenge of the 21 st century. The Kenya Westgate Mall attack and Garrissa University attacks in 2015 and the Libya suicide bombings, did not only claim the lives of many, but also had great political consequences. The advancements, ease of access and availability of information and communication technologies (ICT) is blamed for the increases in terrorist attacks: for instance, the Internet and especially, social media. This is because through the Internet, terrorist organizations such as ISIS have come up with innovative ways to recruit new members, to train and even disseminate ideologies. However, the terrorist opponents (counter-terrorism organizations) also have developed innovative counter-measures using ICT. Therefore, understanding and structuring terrorism in this digital age has enhanced the complexity in addition to multiple stakeholders involved in terrorism related incidences, intertwined causal-relationships, and the uncertainties in the mode of operandi of the terrorists. In this study, theory of synergetics is applied both as a theoretical and methodological approach to try structure the terrorism problem. Secondary data sources such as journal articles on terrorism related incidences and search terms (i.e. terrorism AND technology, terrorism AND Internet), were used by the researchers' to identify and include relevant documents in the study. Following the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the researchers remained with only 405 documents from which using the qualitative software Nvivo, a word cloud was developed to pictorially visualize the terrorism problem. Thereafter, relying on synergetics and using results from the word cloud, the researchers' were able to create a conceptual model. The findings from the analysis of the conceptual model showed that technology plays a critical role in the fight against terrorism as it appears to be part of each of the various components of synergetics, namely, order parameters, system elements, internal and external constraints, control parameters and environment.
Digital Jihad, Propaganda from the Islamic State
2018Cohen, K., Kaati, L.Report
The purpose of this report is to raise awareness of how the so-called Islamic State (IS) uses digital propaganda to reach followers in the West. Although IS has suffered significant territorial losses, the digital battle is far from over. The big social media platforms are now effective in removing propaganda, but despite this, IS is always finding new ways of producing and spreading its messages. IS ability to adapt to an ever-changing digital landscape is likely to keep the organization alive by enabling communication between supporters worldwide. This report provides an introduction to IS propaganda from different perspectives: the specific language used by IS, the brand IS, the magazines produced by IS and women's role in IS.
Trans-mediatized terrorism: The Sydney Lindt Café siege
2018Ali, S., Khattab, U.Article
This article presents an empirical analysis of the Australian media representation of terrorism using the 2014 Sydney Lindt Café siege as a case in point to engage with the notion of moral panic. Deploying critical discourse analysis and case study as mixed methods, insights into trans-media narratives and aftermath of the terrifying siege are presented. While news media appeared to collaborate with the Australian right-wing government in the reporting of terrorism, social media posed challenges and raised security concerns for the state. Social media heightened the drama as sites were variously deployed by the perpetrator, activists and concerned members of the public. The amplified trans-media association of Muslims with terrorism in Australia and its national and global impact, in terms of the political exclusion of Muslims, are best described in this article in the form of an Islamophobic Moral Panic Model, invented for a rethink of the various stages of its occurrence, intensification and institutionalization.
From Minutes to Months A rapid evidence assessment of the impact of media and social media during and after terror events.
2018Innes, M., Innes, H., Dobreva, D., Chermak, S., Huey, S., McGovern, A.Report
This document reports findings from a Rapid Evidence Assessment conducted on the role of mass and social media during and after terrorist events. It is designed to bring
together and synthesize insights and evidence from the available published research literature to inform future policy and practice development. By promoting understanding of
how different forms of mediated communication shape what happens in the aftermath of terror events, the work seeks to reflect changes in both the conduct of terrorism and the
contemporary information environment. In particular, the spread of social media has had disruptive and transformative impacts upon press and broadcast journalism, and the ways
that terrorist violence is performed.
More Support Needed for Smaller Technology Platforms to Counter Terrorist Content
The present Trends Alert was prepared by CTED in accordance with Security Council resolution 2395 (2017). This reaffirms the essential role of CTED within the United Nations
to identify and assess issues, trends and developments relating to the implementation of Council resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005) and 2178 (2014) and other relevant
resolutions. CTED Trends Alerts are designed to increase awareness, within the Security Council Counter Terrorism Committee, and among United Nations agencies and policymakers, of emerging trends identified through CTED’s engagement with Member States on their implementation of the relevant Council resolutions. The Alerts also include relevant evidence-based research conducted by members of the CTED Global Research Network (GRN)1 and other researchers.
OK Google, Show Me Extremism: Analysis of YouTube’s Extremist Video Takedown Policy and Counter-Narrative Program
2018Counter Extremism ProjectReport
ISIS and other extremist groups, as well as their online supporters, have continued to exploit and misuse Google’s platforms to disseminate propaganda material, despite the company having repeatedly announced increased measures to combat online extremism.1 On July 21, 2017, Google announced the launch of one such measure––its Redirect Method Pilot Program. The program is intended to target individuals searching for ISIS-related content on YouTube and direct them to counter-narrative videos, which try to undermine the messaging of extremist
groups.2 The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) monitors and tracks ISIS and other terrorist organizations’ material on YouTube. Between August 2 and August 3, 2018, CEP reviewed a
total of 649 YouTube videos for extremist and counter-narrative content. The result of CEP’s searches highlights the extent of the enduring problem of terrorist content on YouTube and
undermines claims touting the efficacy of the company’s efforts to combat online extremism.
Applying Local Image Feature Descriptions to Aid the Detection of Radicalization Processes in Twitter
2018López-Sánchez, D., Corchado, J.Report
This paper was presented at the 2nd European Counter-Terrorism Centre (ECTC) Advisory Group conference, 17-18 April 2018, at Europol Headquarters, The Hague.

The views expressed are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent those of Europol.
Disrupting Daesh: Measuring Takedown of Online Terrorist Material and Its Impacts
2018Conway, M., Khawaja, M., Lakhani, S., Reffin, J., Robertson, A., & Weir, D.VOX-Pol Publication
This article contributes to public and policy debates on the value of social media disruption activity with respect to terrorist material. In particular, it explores aggressive account and content takedown, with the aim of accurately measuring this activity and its impacts. The major emphasis of the analysis is the so-called Islamic State (IS) and disruption of their online activity, but a catchall “Other Jihadi” category is also utilized for comparison purposes. Our findings challenge the notion that Twitter remains a conducive space for pro-IS accounts and communities to flourish. However, not all jihadists on Twitter are subject to the same high levels of disruption as IS, and we show that there is differential disruption taking place. IS’s and other jihadists’ online activity was never solely restricted to Twitter; it is just one node in a wider jihadist social media ecology. This is described and some preliminary analysis of disruption trends in this area supplied too.

Social Media in Africa - A double-edged sword for security and development
2018Cox, K., Marcellino, W., Bellasio, J., Ward, A., Galai, K., Meranto, S., Paoli, P.G.Featured
There is an on-going debate over the role of online activities in the radicalisation process. However, much of this debate has focused on Western countries, particularly in relation to ISIL’s online influence of homegrown terrorism and of foreign fighter travel to Iraq and Syria. Less is known about patterns of online radicalisation in Africa and about the extent to which African national governmental strategies focus on addressing this issue.
To address this gap in knowledge, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) commissioned RAND Europe to explore social media use and online radicalisation in Africa.
Netwar in Cyberia: Decoding the Media Mujahidin
2018Fisher, A.Report
At the dawn of mass access to the internet, Douglas Rushkof wrote Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace. In his book, he observed a very special moment in our recent history in which it was possible to imagine the path ahead, before most of what daily users of the internet now
experience even existed.
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