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 email@example.com 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.
Identifying Key Players in Violent Extremist Networks: Using Socio-Semantic Network Analysis as Part of a Program of Content Moderation
Recommender systems and the amplification of extremist content
How dark corners collude: a study on an online Chinese alt-right community
Tweeting to Win: Al-Shabaab’s Strategic Use of Microblogging
|Today, we live in a world of networked global communities, drawn together by the recent technological boom. This unprecedented degree of interconnectivity has affected every size and kind of social organization, from the American government to a camera-armed protester on the streets. Technology has particularly changed the fabric of the Islamic world, a community torn between rejecting innovation and embracing modernity. The mass social movements that rocked the Middle East during the Arab Spring only highlight how important connective devices have become for the strategic calculi of Islamic social movements. Islamic groups now use Internet platforms like Facebook and YouTube to reach a greater audience, challenge opponents, and spread their ideologies.|
Combining Social Network Analysis and Sentiment Analysis to Explore the Potential for Online Radicalisation
|2009||Bermingham, A., Conway, M., McInerney, L., O’Hare, N. and Smeaton, A.F.||Article|
|The increased online presence of jihadists has raised the possibility of individuals being radicalised via the Internet. To date, the study of violent radicalisation has focused on dedicated jihadist websites and forums. This may not be the ideal starting point for such research, as participants in these venues may be described as “already madeup minds”. Crawling a global social networking platform, such as YouTube, on the other hand, has the potential to unearth content and interaction aimed at radicalisation of those with little or no apparent prior interest in violent jihadism. This research explores whether such an approach is indeed fruitful. We collected a large dataset from a group within YouTube that we identified as potentially having a radicalising agenda. We analysed this data using social network analysis and sentiment analysis tools, examining the topics discussed and what the sentiment polarity (positive or negative) is towards these topics. In particular, we focus on gender differences in this group of users, suggesting most extreme and less tolerant views among female users.|
White Supremacist Networks on the Internet
|2000||Burris, V., Smith, E. and Strahm, A.||Article|
|In this paper we use methods of social network analysis to examine the inter-organizational structure of the white supremacist movement. Treating links between Internet websites as ties of affinity, communication, or potential coordination, we investigate the structural properties of connections among white supremacist groups. White supremacism appears to be a relatively decentralized movement with multiple centers of influence, but without sharp cleavages between factions. Interorganizational links are stronger among groups with a special interest in mutual affirmation of their intellectual legitimacy (Holocaust revisionists) or cultural identity (racist skinheads) and weaker among groups that compete for members (political parties) or customers (commercial enterprises). The network is relatively isolated from both mainstream conservatives and other extremist groups. Christian Identity theology appears ineffective as a unifying creed of the movement, while Nazi sympathies are pervasive. Recruitment is facilitated by links between youth and adult organizations and by the propaganda efforts of more covertly racist groups. Links connect groups in many countries, suggesting the potential of the Internet to facilitate a whitesupremacist “cyber-community” that transcends regional and national boundaries.|
The Web is a Terrorist’s Command-and-Control Network of Choice
|People do not want social media platforms to facilitate murder, writes Robert Hannigan|
#FailedRevolutions: Using Twitter to study the antecedents of ISIS support
|2015||Magdy, W., Darwish, K. and Weber, I.||Article|
|Lately, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has managed to control large parts of Syria and Iraq. To better understand the roots of support for ISIS, we present a study using Twitter data. We collected a large number of Arabic tweets referring to ISIS and classified them as pro-ISIS or anti-ISIS. We then analyzed the historical timelines of both user groups and looked at their pre-ISIS period to gain insights into the antecedents of support. Also, we built a classifier to ‘predict’, in retrospect, who will support or oppose the group. We show that ISIS supporters largely differ from ISIS opposition in that the former referred a lot more to Arab Spring uprisings that failed than the latter.|
Cyber Propaganda- From How to Start a Revolution to How to Beat ISIS
|2015||Pomerantsev, P. and Elledge, K.||Article|
Cyberculture and the Endurance of White Power Activism
|2006||Simi, P. and Futrell, R.||Article|
|Drawing from ethnographic and documentary data, this article examines the character of the social spaces that white power movement (WPM) activists create on the Internet and the linkages to their real world activism. Specifically, we explain how white power activists use cyberspace as a free space to create and sustain movement culture and coordinate collective action. The WPM's cyberpresence intersects with and enhances their real world activities by offering multiple opportunities for access and coordination. Virtual contact with the WPM community offers members social support, companionship, and a sense of belonging to a community of Aryan believers. We argue that real and virtual spaces are not completely separate spheres but rather closely inter-twined. Consequently, virtual spaces provide an opportunity to parallel and extend the type of interaction present in real world free spaces that are so critical to nurturing and sustaining white power movement culture. Cyberspace is being used to connect all sorts of people, yet the character of those connections is unclear. Some observers argue that cyberspace is a new place of assembly where real world social communities can be established, sustained, or renewed as virtual communities. In The Virtual Community (1993), Howard Rheingold argues the Intemet introduced a new form of community that can help bring people together on-line around shared values and interests, and create ties of support that extend their real world collective interaction. Sherry Turkle (1995:267), a pioneer in studies of identity and interaction on the Intemet, claims that the virtual realm offers "a dramatic Please direct correspondence to Pete Simi,. We want to thank editors Dobratz and Waldner and the anonymous JPMS reviewers for their helpful suggestions on earlier drafts of this article.
You Too Can Be Awlaki
|2011||Brachman, J.M. and Levine, A.N.||Article|
Tweeting Propaganda, Radicalization and Recruitment: Islamic State Supporters Multi-Sided Twitter Networks
|2015||Chatfield, A., Reddick, C. and Brajawidagda, U.||Article|
|Islamic State (IS) terrorist networks in Syria and Iraq pose threats to national security. IS' exploitation of social media and digital strategy plays a key role in its global dissemination of propaganda, radicalization, and recruitment. However, systematic research on Islamic terrorist communication via social media is limited. Our research investigates the question: How do IS members/supporters use Twitter for terrorism communication: propaganda, radicalization, and recruitment? Theoretically, we drew on microeconomic network theories to develop a theoretical framework for multi-sided Twitter networks in the global Islamic terrorist communication environment. Empirically, we collected 3,039 tweets posted by @shamiwitness who was identified in prior research as "an information disseminator" for the IS cause. Methodologically, we performed social network analysis, trend and content analyses of the tweet data. We find strong evidence for Shamiwitness-intermediated multi-sided Twitter networks of international mass media, regional Arabic mass media, IS fighters, and IS sympathizers, supporting the framework's utility.|
Preliminary Analytical Considerations In Designing A Terrorism And Extremism Online Network Extractor
|2014||Bouchard, M., Joffres, K. and Frank, R.||Article|
|It is now widely understood that extremists use the Internet in attempts to accomplish many of their objectives. In this chapter we present a web-crawler called the Terrorism and Extremism Network Extractor (TENE), designed to gather information about extremist activities on the Internet. In particular, this chapter will focus on how TENE may help differentiate terrorist websites from anti-terrorist websites by analyzing the context around the use of predetermined keywords found within the text of the webpage. We illustrate our strategy through a content analysis of four types of web-sites. One is a popular white supremacist website, another is a jihadist website, the third one is a terrorism-related news website, and the last one is an official counterterrorist website. To explore differences between these websites, the presence of, and context around 33 keywords was examined on both websites. It was found that certain words appear more often on one type of website than the other, and this may potentially serve as a good method for differentiating between terrorist websites and ones that simply refer to terrorist activities. For example, words such as “terrorist,” “security,” “mission,” “intelligence,” and “report,” all appeared with much greater frequency on the counterterrorist website than the white supremacist or the jihadist websites. In addition, the white supremacist and the jihadist websites used words such as “destroy,” “kill,” and “attack” in a specific context: not to describe their activities or their members, but to portray themselves as victims. The future developments of TENE are discussed.|
Sentiment-Based Identification of Radical Authors (SIRA).
|2015||Scrivens, R., Davies, G., Frank, R. and Mei, J.||Article|
The Evolution of the ISIS’ Language: a Quantitative Analysis of the Language of the First Year of Dabiq Magazine
|2015||Vergani, M. and Bliuc, A.||Article|
|In this article we investigate the evolution of ISIS by analysing the text contained in Dabiq, the official
ISIS’ internet magazine in English. Specifically, we used a computerized text analysis pro-gram
LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) to investigate the evolution of the language of the first
11 Issues of Dabiq. First, our analysis showed that affiliation seems to be an increasingly important
psychological motive for the group. Secondly, ISIS has been increasingly using emotions, which
are an important mobilizing factor in collective action literature, in a strategic manner. Thirdly,
ISIS language presents an increasing concern with females. Last but not least, our analysis shows
that ISIS has been increasingly using internet jargon (net-speak), which shows how the group tries
to adapt itself to the internet environment and to connect with the identities of young individuals.
Online Radicalization to Violent Extremism
|2014||US Department of Justice||Article|
|Using a combination of traditional websites, mainstream social media platforms, YouTube, and other online services, extremists broadcast their views, provoke negative sentiment toward enemies, incite people to violence, glorify martyrs, create virtual communities with like-minded individuals, provide religious or legal justifications for violent actions, and communicate individually with new recruits to groom them for violent activities. This paper proposes the implementation of community policing principles in the development of strategies for countering online extremist propaganda. One of the key components of community policing is citizen engagement. This involves identifying ways the community can become involved in addressing various types of crime and disorder, including online appeals by violent extremists. Community members surf the Internet and participate on social media, where they may encounter extremist messages, appeals, and strategies. They can become sources of information about what is occurring on the Internet regarding how violent extremists are using the Internet. Police agencies should make an effort, through agency websites and social media, to encourage citizens to report extremist activity on the Internet.|
Facebook's Top Content Judge Discusses Online Terrorism
|At a time when ISIS exploits social media to spread its ideology and gain new recruits, Monika Bickert, the head of global policy management at Facebook, explains how her team removes content that promotes violence and terrorism. Bickert, a former federal prosecutor, describes Facebook’s efforts to use “counter-speech” to fight hateful and extremist ideologies.|
Mining Pro-ISIS Radicalisation Signals from Social Media Users
|2016||Rowe,M. and Saif, H.||Article|
|The emergence and actions of the so-called Islamic State
of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) has received widespread
news coverage across the World, largely due to their capture
of large swathes of land across Syria and Iraq, and the
publishing of execution and propaganda videos. Enticed by
such material published on social media and attracted to the
cause of ISIS, there have been numerous reports of individuals
from European countries (the United Kingdom and France
in particular) moving to Syria and joining ISIS. In this paper
our aim to understand what happens to Europe-based
Twitter users before, during, and after they exhibit pro-ISIS
behaviour (i.e. using pro-ISIS terms, sharing content from
pro-ISIS accounts), characterising such behaviour as radicalisation
signals. We adopt a data-mining oriented approach
to computationally determine time points of activation (i.e.
when users begin to adopt pro-ISIS behaviour), characterise
divergent behaviour (both lexically and socially), and quantify
influence dynamics as pro-ISIS terms are adopted. Our
findings show that: (i) of 154K users examined only 727 exhibited
signs of pro-ISIS behaviour and the vast majority of
those 727 users became activated with such behaviour during
the summer of 2014 when ISIS shared many beheading
videos online; (ii) users exhibit significant behaviour divergence
around the time of their activation, and; (iii) social homophily
has a strong bearing on the diffusion process of proISIS
terms through Twitter.
The Islamic State’s Global Propaganda Strategy
|2016||Gartenstein-Ross, D., Barr, N. and Moreng, B.||Article|
|This Research Paper aims to analyse in depth the global propaganda strategy of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) by looking at the methods through which this grand strategy is carried out as well as the objectives that IS wants to achieve through it. The authors first discuss IS’ growth model, explaining why global expansion and recruitment of foreign fighters are pivotal to IS success. Having in mind this critical role, the authors then explore the narratives and themes used by the group to mobilise foreign fighters and jihadists groups. Third, the paper analyses how IS deploys its narratives in those territories where it has established a foothold. Fourth, it outlines IS’ direct engagement strategy and how it is used to facilitate allegiance of other jihadist groups. The final section of the paper offers a menu of policy options that stakeholders can implement to counter IS’ global propaganda efforts.|
The Islamic State of Tumblr - Recruiting Western Women
|The research discusses ISIS’s Media Strategy towards western women by examining
the Tumblr blog UMM LAYTH. Written by a young woman from Scotland who
traveled to the Islamic State, the blog speaks about daily life under ISIS. The paper
gives a background on the author, the content and the blog’s style.
Political Radicalization on the Internet: Extremist Content, Government Control, and the Power of Victim and Jihad Videos
|2015||Holt, T., Frellich, J.D., Chermak, S. and McCauley, C.||Article|
|The role of the internet in radicalizing individuals to extremist action is much discussed but remains conceptually and empirically unclear. Here we consider right-wing and jihadist use of the Internet – who posts what and where. We focus on extremist content related to radicalization to violent action, and argue that victim videos and jihad videos are particularly powerful in moving individuals to radical action. We interpret these two kinds of video as complementary parts of the kind of mobilization frame studied by social movement theorists. Finally we consider various kinds of government effort to control extremist content on the Internet.|
Who Views Online Extremism? Individual Attributes Leading to Exposure
|2016||Costello, M., Howdon, J. and Ratliff, T.||Article|
|Who is likely to view materials online maligning groups based on race, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, political views, immigration status, or religion? We use an online survey (N = 1034) of youth and young adults recruited from a demographically balanced sample of Americans to address this question. By studying demographic characteristics and online habits of individuals who are exposed to online extremist groups and their messaging, this study serves as a precursor to a larger research endeavor examining the online contexts of extremism.
Descriptive results indicate that a sizable majority of respondents were exposed to negative materials online. The materials were most commonly used to stereotype groups. Nearly half of negative material centered on race or ethnicity, and respondents were likely to encounter such material on social media sites. Regression results demonstrate African-Americans and foreign-born respondents were significantly less likely to be exposed to negative material online, as are younger respondents. Additionally, individuals expressing greater levels of trust in the federal government report significantly less exposure to such materials. Higher levels of education result in increased exposure to negative materials, as does a proclivity towards risk-taking.
Google Based Reactions to ISIS’s Attacks: A Statistical Analysis
|The main purpose of this policy brief is to highlight the risks of radicalization by utilizing statistical analysis. The main question interrogated here is to determine the relation between the level of social reaction and ISIS’s attacks. These reactions are measured through Google Trends of news, web searches, and video ratings. Methodologically, Turkey, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany are picked as the sample countries. In order to derive consistent data from Google’s database, the keywords “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” and its some acronyms such as ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, and DAESH are utilized.
This analysis revealed that Internet media might function as a recognition tool for terrorist organizations considering the fact that following ISIS’s attacks, people of both the target country and other countries progressively search ISIS on Google. Thus, one way or another, ISIS gains reputation and takes the opportunity for radicalization. Furthermore, the level of these searches differs among the aforementioned countries due to specific reasons, which are elaborated in this policy brief.