Library

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 onlinelibrary@voxpol.eu 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.

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TitleYearAuthorTypeLinks
Who Should Regulate Extremist Content Online?
2021 Reed, A. and Henschke, A. Chapter
As liberal democracies grapple with the evolution of online political extremism, in addition to governments, social media and internet infrastructure companies have found themselves making more and more decisions about who gets to use their platforms, and what people say online. This raises the question that this paper explores, who should regulate extremist content online? In doing so the first part of the paper examines the evolution of the increasing role that social media and internet infrastructure companies have come to play in the regulating extremist content online, and the ethical challenges this presents. The second part of the paper explores three ethical challenges: i) the moral legitimacy of private actors, ii) the concentration of power in the hands of a few actors and iii) the lack of separation of powers in the content regulation process by private actors.
“We are Generation Terror!”: Youth‑on‑youth Radicalisation in Extreme‑right Youth Groups
2021 Rose, H. and A.C. Report
Young people – politicised, active and highly connected – are no longer just passive consumers of online terrorist content by adult groomers but are themselves propaganda creators, group organisers, peer recruiters, extremist financers and terrorist convicts. This process, called “youth‑on‑youth radicalisation”, emphasises the agency that young people have in a digital era in which the information hierarchy is increasingly flattened. Noting the formation of several new young extreme‑right groups and a series of terrorist convictions across Western Europe, this paper takes first steps to investigate the specific nature of this emerging threat.
Can the Right Meme? (And How?): A Comparative Analysis of Three Online Reactionary Meme Subcultures
2021 Stall, H., Prasad, H. and Foran, D. Report
This report analyses memes propagated among three online socio‐political groups drawn from sample datasets pulled from social media sites often used by adherents of each group. These groups include those connected to the India‐based Hindutva, US‐based neo‐Nazis and those engaging in pro‐Rittenhouse communications in late 2020. The authors chose the groups based on similarities in their ideological goals, race‐based nationalism and their close association with political violence in their respective countries.
The Iron March Forum and the Evolution of the “Skull Mask” Neo-Fascist Network
2021 Upchurch, H.E. Report
The backbone of the “skull mask” transnational neo-fascist accelerationist network—whose nodes include terror groups such as Atomwaffen, the Base, and Feuerkrieg Division—is a group of organizations that grew out of Iron March, a neo-fascist web forum that was active from 2011 to 2017. The history of the Iron March network shows that violent extremist movements can develop from online communities even in the absence of a territorial base and without regular in-person contact between members. Iron March provided a closed social space where young neo-fascists who did not fit in well in established neo-fascist organizations could create a transnational collective identity. Eventually, Iron March users sought each other out in person and created local groups that remained networked together by virtue of their common origin in the community created on the web forum. The network’s transition from activism to terrorism was facilitated by the introduction of violent ritualistic initiation practices derived from the writings of the Order of Nine Angles, which helped to habituate members to violence as well as to create a sense of shared membership in a militant elite.
Transnational Terrorism and the Internet
2021 Do, Q-T., Gomez-Parra, N. and Rijkers, B. Report
Does the internet enable the recruitment of transnational terrorists? Using geo-referenced population census data and personnel records from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant—a highly tech-savvy terrorist organization— this paper shows that internet access has facilitated the organization’s recruitment of foreign fighters from Tunisia. The positive association between internet access and Daesh recruitment is robust to controlling for a large set of observable and unobservable confounders as well as instrumenting internet access rates with the incidence of lightning strikes.
An Explorative Study into the Importance of Defining and Classifying Cyber Terrorism in the United Kingdom
2021 Jangada Correia, V. Article
Terrorism, crime, and war are all familiar notions; however, the way in which these have been altered through cyberspace is not yet fully, nor unanimously, understood through definitions, theories, and approaches. Although the threat level of terrorism in the UK has lowered to moderate, the threat posed by cyber terrorism has nonetheless heightened throughout the COVID pandemic due to the greater necessity and presence of technology in our lives. This research aimed to highlight the necessity for a unanimous cyber terrorism definition and framework and further aimed to determine what perceptions are held by the general public regarding cyber terrorism through a mixed methods approach. The literature review confirms that there is an absence of a unanimously agreed upon definition of cyber terrorism, and furthermore that the existing academic definitions are not compatible with UK legislation. In addition, the literature review highlights an absence of a cyber terrorism framework that classifies what kind of terrorist activity is cyber enabled or cyber dependent. Quantitative data from the online survey find a couple of significant effects implying the necessity for greater diversity amongst stakeholders which could potentially enhance the detection and prevention of terrorism in the UK. The qualitative data find that although there is some agreement amongst the sample population in views held towards cyber terrorism, some misconceptions are nonetheless present which could have implications on the general public’s ability to identify and report cyber terrorist activity. Overall, the findings from the literature review and the primary data collection aid in developing a cyber terrorism definition that is compatible with UK legislative definitions, and further aids in developing a terrorist activity framework that succinctly highlights the inextricable links between traditional, cyber enabled, and cyber-dependent terrorism.
Temporal Behavioural Analysis of Extremists on Social Media: A Machine Learning Based Approach
2021 Lutfi, S., Yasin, R., El Barachi, M., Oroumchian, F., Imene, A. and Mathew, S.S. Article
Public opinion is of critical importance to businesses and governments. It represents the collective opinion and prevalent views about a certain topic, policy, or issue. Extreme public opinion consists of extreme views held by individuals that advocate and spread radical ideas for the purpose of radicalizing others. while the proliferation of social media gives unprecedented reach and visibility and a platform for freely expressing public opinion, social media fora can also be used for spreading extreme views, manipulating public opinions, and radicalizing others. In this work, we leverage data mining and analytics techniques to study extreme public opinion expressed using social medial. A dataset of 259,904 tweets posted between 21/02/2016 and 01/05/2021 was collected in relation to extreme nationalism, hate speech, and supremacy. The collected data was analyzed using a variety to techniques, including sentiment analysis, named entity recognition, social circle analysis, and opinion leaders' identification, and results related to an American politician and an American right-wing activist were presented. The results obtained are very promising and open the door to the ability to monitor the evolution of extreme views and public opinion online.
Linguistic Patterns for Code Word Resilient Hate Speech Identification
2021 Calderón, F.H., Balani, N., Taylor, J., Peignon, M., Huang, Y.H. and Chen, Y.S. Article
The permanent transition to online activity has brought with it a surge in hate speech discourse. This has prompted increased calls for automatic detection methods, most of which currently rely on a dictionary of hate speech words, and supervised classification. This approach often falls short when dealing with newer words and phrases produced by online extremist communities. These code words are used with the aim of evading automatic detection by systems. Code words are frequently used and have benign meanings in regular discourse, for instance, “skypes, googles, bing, yahoos” are all examples of words that have a hidden hate speech meaning. Such overlap presents a challenge to the traditional keyword approach of collecting data that is specific to hate speech. In this work, we first introduced a word embedding model that learns the hidden hate speech meaning of words. With this insight on code words, we developed a classifier that leverages linguistic patterns to reduce the impact of individual words. The proposed method was evaluated across three different datasets to test its generalizability. The empirical results show that the linguistic patterns approach outperforms the baselines and enables further analysis on hate speech expressions.
Online Radicalisation: Moving beyond a Simple Dichotomy
2021 Herath, C. and Whittaker, J. Article
Online radicalisation to terrorism has become a pervasive policy concern over the last decade. However, as a concept it lacks clarity and empirical support. In this article, we add an empirical and theoretical lens to this problem by analysing the trajectories of 231 Islamic State terrorists. We use cluster analyses to create typologies of individuals’ different online and offline antecedent behaviours, including the ways in which they engaged in networks with co-ideologues and how they prepared for their events. The findings suggest four types of pathway within our dataset: 1) The “Integrated” pathway which has high network engagement both online and offline, mostly made up of individuals that plotted as part of a group; 2) The “Encouraged” pathway contains individuals that acted more in the online domain at the expense of offline; 3) Terrorists in the “Isolated” pathway are defined by a lack of interaction across either domain; 4) The “Enclosed” pathway encompassed actors that displayed greater offline network activity, but still utilised the Internet for planning their activity. These typologies help to move beyond the dichotomy of online or offline radicalisation; there remain few individuals that either exclusively use the Internet or do not use it at all. Rather, we can conceptualise Internet usage on a spectrum in which these four typologies all sit.
Short of Suspension: How Suspension Warnings Can Reduce Hate Speech on Twitter
2021 Yildirim, M.M., Nagler, J., Bonneau, R. and Tucker, J.A. Article
Debates around the effectiveness of high-profile Twitter account suspensions and similar bans on abusive users across social media platforms abound. Yet we know little about the effectiveness of warning a user about the possibility of suspending their account as opposed to outright suspensions in reducing hate speech. With a pre-registered experiment, we provide causal evidence that a warning message can reduce the use of hateful language on Twitter, at least in the short term. We design our messages based on the literature on deterrence, and test versions that emphasize the legitimacy of the sender, the credibility of the message, and the costliness of being suspended. We find that the act of warning a user of the potential consequences of their behavior can significantly reduce their hateful language for one week. We also find that warning messages that aim to appear legitimate in the eyes of the target user seem to be the most effective. In light of these findings, we consider the policy implications of platforms adopting a more aggressive approach to warning users that their accounts may be suspended as a tool for reducing hateful speech online.
Of Heroes and Enemies: Visual Polarization in the Propaganda Magazines of the Islamic State
2021 Aguilera-Carnerero, C. Chapter
Since the Islamic State proclaimed the Caliphate in 2014, the terrorist organization has been prominent due to the high-quality and efficient distribution of its propaganda, especially in the main online social media platforms. Two of their most popular vehicles for indoctrination and recruitment, the e-magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah, perfectly embody the philosophy of an organization constructed upon a multi-semiotic polarized discourse in which the antagonism between enemies and heroes is stated in many different ways. Using multimodal critical discourse analysis and visual framing as our main theoretical frameworks, this chapter analyses the semiotic structure of the images of foes and allies in the aforementioned magazines to show their essential role within the propaganda machine of the Islamic State, designed to achieve two main interconnected goals: the legitimation of their actions and, through this, the adherence of new fighters to their cause.
From cyberfascism to terrorism: On 4chan/pol/ culture and the transnational production of memetic violence
2021 Thorleifsson, C. Article
This article examines the fascists imaginaries that are produced and circulated at 4chan /pol/. Based on analysis of memes and posts collected during a 6-month period in 2019, it explores the diagnoses given by anonymous users to the imagining of the ultra-nation and dehumanized others, and the prescriptions for the remedies needed to bring about its saving. It argues that the cultural practices of /pol/ where fascist fantasies of white supremacy are spread fast and anonymously in a transnational milieu through transgressive play frames are particularly powerful for the amplification of the logic of an endangered ultra-nation that needs urgent violent defence to obtain racial palingenesis. As such cyberfascism co-produced in a leaderless network among users scattered across continents lends itself to calls for violent action against minority communities, including terrorism.
New forms of cultural nationalism? American and British Indians in the Trump and Brexit Twittersphere
2021 Leidig, E., Ganesh, B. and Bright, J. Article
Diaspora networks are one of the key, but often invisible, drivers in reinforcing long-distance nationalism towards the ‘homeland’ but simultaneously construct nationalist myths within their countries of residence. This article examines Indian diaspora supporters of Brexit and Trump in the United Kingdom and the United States who promote exclusionary nationalist imaginaries. Combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, it analyses British Indian and Indian American users that circulate radical right narratives within the Brexit and Trump Twittersphere. This article finds that these users express issues of concern pertinent to the radical right—for example, Islam and Muslims and the left-oriented political and media establishment—by employing civic nationalist discourse that promotes cultural nationalism. It sheds light on digital practices among diaspora actors who participate in the reinvigoration of exclusionary nationalist imaginaries of the Anglo-Western radical right.
Feeling Terrified? The Emotions of Online Violent Extremism
2021 Waldek, L., Droogan, J. and Lumby, C. Show author details Book
This Element presents original research into how young people interact with violent extremist material, including terrorist propaganda, when online. It explores a series of emotional and behavioural responses that challenge assumptions that terror or trauma are the primary emotional responses to these online environments. It situates young people's emotional responses within a social framework, revealing them to have a relatively sophisticated relationship with violent extremism on social media that challenges simplistic concerns about processes of radicalisation. The Element draws on four years of research, including quantitative surveys and qualitative focus groups with young people, and presents a unique perspective drawn from young people's experiences.
Censoring Extremism: Influence of Online Restriction on Official Media Products of ISIS
2021 McMinimy, K., Winkler, C.K., Lokmanoglu, A.D. and Almahmoud, M. Article
Recognizing that militant, non-state groups utilize social media and online platforms to reach members, sympathizers, and potential recruits, state agencies and social media corporations now increasingly regulate access to accounts affiliated with such groups. Scholars examining deplatforming efforts have, to date, focused on the extent of audience loss after account restrictions and the identification of strategies for regrouping online followers on the same or different platforms over time. Left unexplored is if and how militant non-state groups adapt their official messaging strategies in response to platform restrictions despite continuing online access to them. To begin to fill that gap, this study compares ISIS’s 550 images displayed in the group’s official newsletter al-Naba 6 months before and after Europol’s November 2019 take-down of terrorist affiliated accounts, groups, channels, and bots on Telegram. It conducts a content analysis of images related to militaries and their outcomes, non-military activities and their outcomes, and presentational forms. The findings demonstrate that ISIS visually emphasizes its standard priming approach but shifts its agenda-setting strategy. While retaining some of its standard visual framing practices, the group also alters frames, particularly those related to images showing opposing militaries and military outcome.
'Fogging' and 'Flooding': Countering Extremist Mis/Disinformation After Terror Attacks
2021 Innes, M. Report
This report explores how and why mis/disinformation develops in the wake of terror attacks and the ways it is used by extremist groups to attempt to shape public understanding and political responses. These uses include extremist sympathisers engaging in information manipulation and obfuscation as part of their attempts to explain or justify the violence, as well as distorting and deceptive messaging designed to marginalize or stigmatize other social groups. Having presented evidence and insight about the construction of these messages, the discussion also looks at the policy and practice options in terms of ‘what works’ with regard to managing and mitigating any such messaging and the harms it seeks to induce.
The Incel Rebellion: The Rise of the Manosphere and the Virtual War Against Women
2021 Sugiura, L. Book
Emerging alongside the progression of women's rights in the twenty-first century is the development of the men's rights movement, parts of which have culminated into the contemporary 'manosphere.' Consisting of online communities that ascribe to misogynistic ideologies, which objectify, disparage, and dehumanise women, the manosphere also houses those who identify as involuntary celibate (incel).
Managing Risk: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, and Anti-Democratic Tendencies in the Digital Space
2021 Corbeil, A., and Rohozinski, R. Chapter
r/WatchRedditDie and the politics of reddit’s bans and quarantines
2021 DeCook, J.R. Article
The subreddit r/WatchRedditDie was founded in 2015 after reddit started implementing anti-harassment policies, and positions itself as a “fire alarm for reddit” meant to voyeuristically watch reddit’s impending (symbolic) death. As conversations around platform governance, moderation, and the role of platforms in controlling hate speech become more complex, r/WatchRedditDie and its affiliated subreddits are dedicated in maintaining a version of reddit tolerant of any and all speech, excluding other more vulnerable users from fully participating on the platform. r/WatchReditDie users advocate for no interference in their activities on the platform—meaning that although they rely on the reddit infrastructure to sustain their community, they aim to self-govern to uphold a libertarian and often manipulated interpretation of free expression. Responding to reddit’s evolving policies, they find community with one another by positioning the platform itself as their main antagonist. Through the social worlds framework, I examine the r/WatchRedditDie community’s responses to platform change, bringing up new questions about the possibility of shared governance between platform and user, as well as participatory culture’s promises and perils.
Duality of Technology Nexus in Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Support of Gender Mainstreaming
2021 Vaseashta, A. Article
Gender equality plays a pivotal role in combating terrorism and violent extremist in the global arena. This chapter provides a brief overview of evolution, definition and overall goals of gender mainstreaming and analysis as a tool for understanding the unique needs of men and women to achieve gender equality at the institutional level by developing policies, implementing programs and reviewing security implications. Since the 21st-century battlefield is complex, kinetic and multi-dimensional, it requires a multi-disciplinary approach to find solutions to such issues. Using technological platforms, it is possible to supplement means to understand, foresight and address such complex dynamics. A focus on the duality of information technology and its interplay with social media for recruitment, preventing the spread of misinformation and even intercepting channels of communication, plays a vital role in combating terrorism and violent extremism. From a policy standpoint, offering education and training and providing easy access to information platforms along with other similar initiatives, will assist in gender equality and in development policies, programs and strategies.
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