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
Counter-terrorism, social media and the regulation of extremist content
2021 West, L.J. Chapter
This insightful book provides an analysis of the central ethical issues that have arisen in combatting global terrorism and, in particular, jihadist terrorist groups, notably Al Qaeda, Islamic State and their affiliates. Chapters explore the theoretical problems that arise in relation to terrorism, such as the definition of terrorism and the concept of collective responsibility, and consider specific ethical issues in counter-terrorism.
White Supremacy and the Digital World: The Social Construction of White Identity
2021 Polizzi, D. Chapter
White Supremacist groups have been an active participant in the digital world since its inception. However, as this technology evolved so too did the opportunities it provided to various iterations of far-right political groups and organizations. Though it would be incorrect to say that the evolving realities of the digital world are the central cause for far-right radicalization, it did provide the opportunity by which those individuals already holding extremist attitudes and beliefs to better consolidate those beliefs, while also embracing a community of like-minded individuals across the country and around the world. Attitudes and beliefs, which were perhaps less welcome in normal day-to-day experience could now be shared and validated in ways that furthered this process extremism and made the possibility of violence more likely.
The Online Regulation Series | The Handbook
2021 Tech Against Terrorism Report
With this Handbook we aim to provide a comprehensive and accessible resource for tech platforms to improve their understanding of legislative developments and key trends in online regulation. All resources included in the Handbook can be accessed via our relaunched Knowledge Sharing Platform.
The Fission of the Forbidden: The Popularity of Video Content in an Online Right-Wing Extremist Environment
2021 Waldek, L. Article
Video platforms such as YouTube provide an environment where the blurred duality between content dissemination and creation facilitates the generation of social networks. Research into online violent extremist environments has often noted the prominence of video-sharing platforms as a means of distributing propaganda and cultivating social networks for purposes of recruitment. This paper draws from the study of emotion to examine three videos and associated comments that had high engagement, understood as the frequency of interactions, likes/upvotes and reposts in a given social network, in a right-wing extremist online milieu. This analysis highlights the important role emotions play in generating social connectedness and ultimately engagement and recruitment into online right-wing extremist milieus. Understanding the significance of emotions in online violent extremist video content can help to identify opportunities for moderation and/or the construction of alternative narratives.
Portrayals of Women on Ethno-Nationalist and Radical Islamic Websites in Bosnia And Herzegovina
2021 Barton-Hronešová, J. and Hodžić, S. Article
This article presents an original analysis of portrayals of women in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on websites with radical and extremist content. We analyze and discuss key online narratives about women and their societal roles from 100 sampled online articles published on ten websites that primarily propagate right-wing, nationalist and Salafist thinking. The article shows that while Salafist websites focus on didactic material about how women are expected to act (selectively using the Quran and hadiths), radical ethno-nationalist and right-wing articles directly accuse liberal-thinking women and feminists of immorality, perversity, and shameful behavior. While studied articles on Islamic websites confine women’s roles to family caretakers and to wives, selected ethno-nationalist articles present women in relation to their national belonging and war victimization. We conclude that the studied websites essentialize women’s societal functions, predominantly placing their roles and identities in the private sphere while linking womanhood to collective national and/or religious identity. Although the selected platforms represent different manifestations of extremisms, they share many similarities.
Courage Against Hate
2021 Courage Against Hate Report
The Courage Against Hate initiative has been brought together by Facebook for the purpose of sparking cross-sector, pan-European dialogue and action to combat hate speech and extremism. This collection of articles unites European academic analysis with practitioners who are actively working on countering extremism within civil society.
Interim report: Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism
2021 Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism Report
Over the last several years, there has been an alarming increase in antisemitic incidents across the globe. Today, the apparent majority originate online. As social media posts do not stop at international borders, members of the national legislatures of Australia, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States have come together across party lines to launch the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism.
Extremism in the Digital Era
2021 Abdulmajid, A. Book
This book constitutes a journey into the obscure field of sectarian-guided discourses of radical Islamist groups. It provides new insights into the ideological mechanisms utilized by such organizations to incite sectarian conflicts and recruit local and foreign guardians to their alleged cause. This book examines diverse aspects and dimensions of the discourses of Sunni-based ISIS and Shia-based al-Hashd al-Shaabi and explores manipulative and ideological discursive strategies utilized by media outlets associated with these groups. It delves into linguistic and contextual activities, implicit and explicit messages within the discourses of various media outlets operating in the heart of the Middle East. It also scrutinizes and explains aspects of politicization, religionization and sectarianization within the media discourse of terrorist groups in the digital era.
Zoom-ing in on White Supremacy: Zoom-Bombing Anti-Racism Efforts
2021 Ali, K. Article
I am interested in contributing further knowledge regarding the alt-right, white supremacy, and the Internet by exploring the sinister conducting of Zoom-bombing anti-racist events. Here, I will investigate how white supremacy through the Internet can lead to violence, abuse, and fear that “transcends the virtual world to damage real, live humans beings” via Zoom-bombing, an act that is situated in a larger co-option of the Internet by the alt-right and white supremacists, but has been under theorised as a hate crime.
YouTube Regrets: A crowdsourced investigation into YouTube's recommendation algorithm
2021 Moziilla Report
Faced with YouTube’s continuous refusal to engage, Mozilla built a browser extension, RegretsReporter, that allows people to donate data about the YouTube videos they regret watching on the platform. Through one of the biggest crowdsourced investigations into YouTube, we’ve uncovered new information that warrants urgent attention and action from lawmakers and the public. We now know that YouTube is recommending videos that violate their very own content policies and harm people around the world — and that needs to stop.
Recommender systems and the amplification of extremist content
2021 Whittaker, J., Looney, S., Reed, A. and Votta, F. Article
Policymakers have recently expressed concerns over the role of recommendation algorithms and their role in forming “filter bubbles”. This is a particularly prescient concern in the context of extremist content online; these algorithms may promote extremist content at the expense of more moderate voices. In this article, we make two contributions to this debate. Firstly, we provide a novel empirical analysis of three platforms’ recommendation systems when interacting with far-right content. We find that one platform—YouTube—does amplify extreme and fringe content, while two—Reddit and Gab—do not. Secondly, we contextualise these findings into the regulatory debate. There are currently few policy instruments for dealing with algorithmic amplification, and those that do exist largely focus on transparency. We argue that policymakers have yet to fully understand the problems inherent in “de-amplifying” legal, borderline content and argue that a co-regulatory approach may offer a route towards tackling many of these challenges.
Barriers to Entry to Jihadist Activism on the Internet
2021 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Article
The present article contends that terrorist activism on the Internet is determined by the technical configuration and ease of use of the tool. Engagement in Internet activities considered criminal offenses is not only explained by a progression in the level of radicalization of the individual. Rather, the type of barriers to entry which they must overcome plays a decisive role in the decision. The article classifies the various Internet spaces featuring terrorist content under the categories of “hard platforms” and “friendly platforms”. This differentiation will enable us to identify how the barriers to entry to such activism have evolved over the last two decades and how this evolution has been responsible for different levels of terrorist mobilization in cyberspace. The investigation focuses on jihadist terrorism and uses the antiterrorist operations carried out in Spain during the period 2001-2020 as a case study.
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.
Understanding the New Zealand Online Extremist Ecosystem
2021 Comerford, M., Guhl, J. and Miller, C. Report
In this report, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and CASM Technology provide a data-driven snapshot of the online activities of extremists with a demonstrable link to New Zealand, as well as the digital platforms connecting New Zealand to an international extremist ecosystem.
White Supremacy Search Trends in the United States
2021 Moonshot, Anti-Defamation League Report
Moonshot partnered with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to analyze US search traffic in response to the threats posed by white supremacist narratives and ideology in the US this past year. The dominant socio-political events of 2020-2021—the COVID-19 pandemic, the widespread BLM protests and counter-protests, and the presidential election—coalesced to create fertile ground for white supremacists and other violent extremist movements to mobilize and recruit. From 18 August 2020 – 7 March 2021, we recorded 511,759 white supremacist searches across the United States. We identified trends such as anti-Black search traffic, interest in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and a sustained appetite for “The Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. Ultimately, we found that offline events seemed to catalyze search traffic for extremist content online.
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.
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