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
Tweeting Islamophobia: Islamophobic Hate Speech Amongst Followers Of UK Political Parties On Twitter
2019 Vidgen, B. PhD Thesis
The aim of this thesis is to enhance our understanding of the nature and dynamics of Islamophobic hate speech amongst followers of UK political parties on Twitter. I study four parties from across the political spectrum: the BNP, UKIP, the Conservatives and Labour. I make three main contributions. First, I define Islamophobia in terms of negativity and generality, thus making a robust, theoretically-informed contribution to the study of a deeply contested concept. This argument informs the second contribution,
which is methodological: I create a multi-class supervised machine learning classifier for Islamophobic hate speech. This distinguishes between weak and strong varieties and can be applied robustly and at scale. My third contribution is theoretical. Drawing together my substantive findings, I argue that Islamophobic tweeting amongst followers of UK parties can be characterised as a wind system which contains Islamophobic hurricanes. This analogy captures the complex, heterogeneous dynamics underpinning Islamophobia on Twitter, and highlights its devastating effects. I also show that Islamist terrorist attacks drive Islamophobia, and that this affects followers of all four parties studied here. I use this finding to extend the theory of cumulative extremism beyond extremist groups to include individuals with mainstream affiliations. These contributions feed into ongoing academic, policymaking and activist discussions about Islamophobic hate speech in both social media and UK politics.
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.
Tweeting Situational Awareness During the Sydney Siege
2016 Archie, B. Journal
This article seeks to investigate the way in which social media can affect terrorist events. Using the 2014 Sydney siege as its primary focus, it will argue that the public’s social media activity, particularly the capacity to engage in ‘reporting’ of live events as they occur, can shift the tactical advantage from counterterrorism officials to the perpetrator. Situational awareness theory will be used to analyse how the public’s Twitter activity during the event had the capacity to enhance the perpetrator’s decision-making and therefore his overall capacity to execute the attack. The article will analyse the Martin Place Siege Joint Commonwealth—New South Wales Review, particularly, Chapter 10, Public Communication. The Review had shortcomings in terms of its failure to fully analyse the role of social media during the Sydney siege and the way in which it impacted upon events. The article therefore seeks to highlight the need for law enforcement and government agencies to take into account developments within social media, which have added a new dimension to terrorist activity. Failure to take account of these developments will diminish the capacity of law enforcement and government to respond effectively to similar events in the future.
Tweeting Terror: An Analysis of the Norwegian Twitter-sphere during and in the Aftermath of the 22 July 2011 Terrorist Attack
2018 Steensen S. Chapter
This chapter analyses the Norwegian Twitter-sphere during and in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Norway on 22 July 2011. Based on a collection of 2.2 million tweets representing the Twitter-sphere during the period 20 July–28 August 2011, the chapter seeks answers to how the micro-blogging services aided in creating situation awareness (SA) related to the emergency event, what role hashtags played in that process and who the dominant crisis communicators were. The chapter is framed by theories and previous research on SA and social media use in the context of emergency events. The findings reveal that Twitter was important in establishing SA both during and in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, that hashtags were of limited value in this process during the critical phase, and that unexpected actors became key communicators.
Book edited by Harald Hornmoen and Klas Backholm
Tweeting the Jihad: Social Media Networks of Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq
2014 Klausen, J. Journal
Social media have played an essential role in the jihadists’ operational strategy in Syria
and Iraq, and beyond. Twitter in particular has been used to drive communications over
other social media platforms. Twitter streams from the insurgency may give the illusion
of authenticity, as a spontaneous activity of a generation accustomed to using their
cell phones for self-publication, but to what extent is access and content controlled?
Over a period of three months, from January through March 2014, information was
collected from the Twitter accounts of 59 Western-origin fighters known to be in Syria.
Using a snowball method, the 59 starter accounts were used to collect data about the
most popular accounts in the network-at-large. Social network analysis on the data
collated about Twitter users in the Western Syria-based fighters points to the controlling
role played by feeder accounts belonging to terrorist organizations in the insurgency
zone, and by Europe-based organizational accounts associated with the banned British
organization, Al Muhajiroun, and in particular the London-based preacher, Anjem
Choudary.
Tweeting to Win: Al-Shabaab’s Strategic Use of Microblogging
2012 Perlman, L. Article
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.
Twitter and Jihad: the Communication Strategy of ISIS
2015 Maggioni, M. and Magri, P. Report
The capture of Mosul in the summer of 2014 by the self-styled ‘Islamic State’ appears today much more than a significant military event in the complex scenario of the Middle-East and in the tangled situation of Iraq and Syria. Close observers were not surprised. The establishment of the ‘Islamic State’ has characterized most of the recent history of this part of the world and has shown the ability to benefit from the inability to provide a clear answer to all the deep political and social unrest in this region. The symbol of this constant evolution and transformation is found in the various names that have been adopted over the years, from al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI); Islamic State in Iraq (ISI); Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS); to the current Islamic State (IS). This aspect should not be overlooked.
UK Insight Report Volume 4 Summary
2018 OCCI Report
The OCCI Insight Reports equip NGO partners on an ongoing basis with the knowledge
needed to develop effective, targeted campaigns. Without access to in-depth, data-driven
insights into the fast-evolving landscape of extremist and terrorist propaganda, narratives
and networks, it is impossible to mount a proportional targeted response. Additionally, the
reports highlight recommendations for future counterspeech campaigning to address the
identified narratives. OCCI will work closely with any organisation who is interested in
piloting and implementing these recommendations.
Uncovering the Wider Structure of Extreme Right Communities Spanning Popular Online Networks
2013 O’Callaghan, D., Greene, D., Conway, M., Carthy, J. and Cunningham, P. Article
Recent years have seen increased interest in the online presence of extreme right groups. Although originally composed of dedicated websites, the online extreme right milieu now spans multiple networks, including popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Ideally therefore, any contemporary analysis of online extreme right activity requires the consideration of multiple data sources, rather than being restricted to a single platform. We investigate the potential for Twitter to act as one possible gateway to communities within the wider online network of the extreme right, given its facility for the dissemination of content. A strategy for representing heterogeneous network data with a single homogeneous network for the purpose of community detection is presented, where these inherently dynamic communities are tracked over time. We use this strategy to discover and analyse persistent English and German language extreme right communities.
Under the shade of AK47s: a multimodal approach to violent extremist recruitment strategies for foreign fighters
2017 Wignell, P., Tan, S., and O'Halloran, KL. Article
Two notable features of the current conflict in Syria and Iraq are the number of foreign fighters from western countries fighting for Sunni militant organisations, and the use of the Internet and social media by some extremist groups to disseminate propaganda material. This article explores how the group which refers to itself as Islamic State and an affiliated British group, Rayat al Tawheed, deploy combinations of images and text which serve as bonding icons to rally supporters. The data consists of the English language edition of ISIS’s online magazine Dabiq and online materials produced by Rayat al Tawheed. The results suggest that ISIS and Rayat al Tawheed adopt similar but different iconisation strategies. While ISIS adopts a global strategy to present a unified world view utilising a range of ISIS values in its iconisation, Rayat al Tawheed foregrounds jihad using strategies specifically targeting young, English-speaking men of Islamic/Arab backgrounds.
Understanding and Influencing Public Support for Insurgency and Terrorism
2012 Davis, P.K., Larson, E.V., Haldeman, Z., Oguz, M. and Rana, Y. Book
The monograph focuses on public support for insurgency and terrorism and how it can be influenced. It is organised around the testing and refinement of conceptual models that seek to integrate much of what is known from relevant social science about public support.
Understanding ISIS Myth and Realities
2015 Abrahms, M. Video
Published on May 29, 2015
This video was streamed live by DMAPLab MIGS on 26 May 2015.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has become a household name because it films its atrocities and posts them online thanks to social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.

Western countries and Arab states appear to be united and see the group as a threat to international peace and security. But what do we really know about ISIS? What should the international community do to cripple ISIS' on the battlefield?

Max Abrahms, professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers a unique perception of the relationship between the Islamic State’s propaganda and its success as an organisation.
Understanding Online Radicalisation Using Data Science
2016 Al-Saggaf, Y. Journal
What characterises social media radicals? And why some people become attracted to radicalisation? To explore answers to these questions, a number of tweets posted by a group of suspected radicals tweeting in Arabic were analysed using social network analysis and machine learning. The study revealed that these suspected radicals' networks showed significant interaction with others; but this interactivity is only significant quantitatively as the interaction is not reciprocated. With regards to why these suspected radicals became attracted to radicalisation, Topic Modelling revealed these suspected radicals' tweets underpinned a perceived injustice that they believed the Secret Police and the Government inflicted upon them. Overall, the study has shown that data science tools have the potential to inform our understanding of online radicalisation. It is hoped this exploratory study will be the basis for a future study in which the research questions will be answered using a larger sample.
Understanding Psycho-Sociological Vulnerability of ISIS Patronizers in Twitter
2017 Reganti, A., Maheshwari, T., Das, A., Chakraborty, T., and Kumaraguru, P. Article
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Salafi jihadist militant group that has made extensive use of online social media platforms to promulgate its ideologies and evoke many individuals to support the organization. The psycho- sociological background of an individual plays a crucial role in determining his/her vulnerability of being lured into joining the organisation and indulge in terrorist activities, since his/her behavior largely depends on the society s/he was brought up in. Here, we analyse five sociological aspects – personality, values & ethics, optimism/pessimism, age and gender to understand the psycho-sociological vulnerability of individuals over Twitter. Experimental results suggest that psycho-sociological aspects indeed act as foundation to discover and differentiate between prominent and unobtrusive users in Twitter.
Understanding Terrorism in the Age of Global Media: A Communication ApproachUnderstanding Terrorism in the Age of Global Media: A Communication Approach
2012 Archetti, C. Book
We cannot truly understand terrorism in the 21st century—let alone counter it effectively—unless we also understand the processes of communication that underpin it. The book challenges existing terrorism research showing that current approaches are inadequate and outdated. It exposes the fact that, although we live in an age of interconnectedness shaped by media technologies, both policy makers and security experts know very little about how to make sense of this reality. Among the widespread myths the book dispels are: the idea that new recruits into the ranks of al Qaeda are 'radicalized' by a 'narrative of grievance'; that the removal of extremist websites should be a priority; that 'we' can 'rewrite' terrorists' propaganda; that being a 'global brand' is a source of strength for al Qaeda. This book will be of interest to researchers and students in terrorism studies, communication and media, politics and security.
Understanding The Collective Identity Of The Radical Right Online: A Mixed-Methods Approach
2017 Scrivens, R.M. PhD Thesis
Criminologists have generally agreed that the Internet is not only a tool or resource for right-wing extremists to disseminate ideas and products, but also a site of important identity work, accomplished interactively through the exchange of radical ideas. Online discussion forums, amongst other interactive corners of the Web, have become an essential conduit for the radical right to air their grievances and bond around their “common enemy.” Yet overlooked in this discussion has been a macro-level understanding of the radical discussions that contribute to the broader collective identity of the extreme right online, as well as what constitutes “radical posting behavior” within this context. Drawing from criminal career measures to facilitate this type of analysis, data was extracted from a sub-forum of the most notorious white supremacy forum online, Stormfront, which included 141,763 posts made by 7,014 authors over approximately 15 years. In study one of this dissertation, Sentiment-based Identification of Radical Authors (SIRA), a sentiment analysis-based algorithm that draws from traditional criminal career measures to evaluate authors’ opinions, was used to identify and, by extension, assess forum authors’ radical posting behaviors using a mixed-methods approach. Study two extended on study one by using SIRA to quantify authors’ group-level sentiment about their common enemies: Jews, Blacks, and LGBTQs. Study three further extended on studies one and two by analyzing authors’ radical posting trajectories with semi-parametric group-based modeling. Results highlighted the applicability of criminal career measures to study radical discussions online. Not only did this mixed-methods approach provide theoretical insight into what constitutes radical posting behavior in a white supremacy forum, but it also shed light on the communication patterns that contribute to the broader collective identity of the extreme right online.
Understanding The Expression Of Grievances In The Arabic Twitter-sphere Using Machine Learning
2019 Al-Saggaf, Y. and Davies, A. Article
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the design, application and findings of a case study in which the application of a machine learning algorithm is utilised to identify the grievances in Twitter in an Arabian context. To understand the characteristics of the Twitter users who expressed the identified grievances, data mining techniques and social network analysis were utilised. The study extracted a total of 23,363 tweets and these were stored as a data set. The machine learning algorithm applied to this data set was followed by utilising a data mining process to explore the characteristics of the Twitter feed users. The network of the users was mapped and the individual level of interactivity and network density were calculated. Findings The machine learning algorithm revealed 12 themes all of which were underpinned by the coalition of Arab countries blockade of Qatar. The data mining analysis revealed that the tweets could be clustered in three clusters, the main cluster included users with a large number of followers and friends but who did not mention other users in their tweets. The social network analysis revealed that whilst a large proportion of users engaged in direct messages with others, the network ties between them were not registered as strong. Borum (2011) notes that invoking grievances is the first step in the radicalisation process. It is hoped that by understanding these grievances, the study will shed light on what radical groups could invoke to win the sympathy of aggrieved people. In combination, the machine learning algorithm offered insights into the grievances expressed within the tweets in an Arabian context. The data mining and the social network analyses revealed the characteristics of the Twitter users highlighting identifying and managing early intervention of radicalisation.
Understanding the Impact of Terrorist Event Reporting on Countering Violent Extremism: From A Practitioner’s Perspective
2018 Andre, V. Report
This report presents the key findings from the London Roundtable on “Understanding the Impact of Terrorist Event Reporting on Countering Violent Extremism”. The event was held at the Australian High Commission in London on 30-31 January 2018. The roundtable brought together media practitioners, CVE and PVE front line practitioners, policy-makers and academics drawn from Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the United States of America. Other attendees included representatives from various Australian and British Government departments and New Scotland Yard. This report provides summaries of each of the panel discussions that were delivered at the roundtable, before drawing out the key themes, which emerged and policy recommendations.
Understanding the Incel Community on YouTube
2020 Papadamou, K., Zannettou, S., Blackburn, J., De Cristofaro, E., Stringhini, G. and Sirivianos, M. Article
YouTube is by far the largest host of user-generated video content worldwide. Alas, the platform also hosts inappropriate, toxic, and/or hateful content. One community that has come into the spotlight for sharing and publishing hateful content are the so-called Involuntary Celibates (Incels), a loosely defined movement ostensibly focusing on men's issues, who have often been linked to misogynistic views. In this paper, we set out to analyze the Incel community on YouTube. We collect videos shared on Incel-related communities within Reddit, and perform a data-driven characterization of the content posted on YouTube along several axes. Among other things, we find that the Incel community on YouTube is growing rapidly, that they post a substantial number of negative comments, and that they discuss a broad range of topics ranging from ideology, e.g., around the Men Going Their Own Way movement, to discussions filled with racism and/or misogyny. Finally, we quantify the probability that a user will encounter an Incel-related video by virtue of YouTube's recommendation algorithm. Within five hops when starting from a non-Incel-related video, this probability is 1 in 5, which is alarmingly high given the toxicity of said content.
Understanding the Radical Mind: Identifying Signals to Detect Extremist Content on Twitter
2019 Nouh, M., Nurse, J. R. C. and Goldsmith, M. Article
The Internet and, in particular, Online Social Networks have changed the way that terrorist and extremist groups can influence and radicalise individuals. Recent reports show that the mode of operation of these groups starts by exposing a wide audience to extremist material online, before migrating them to less open online platforms for further radicalization. Thus, identifying radical content online is crucial to limit the reach and spread of the extremist narrative. In this paper, our aim is to identify measures to automatically detect radical content in social media. We identify several signals, including textual, psychological and behavioural, that together allow for the classification of radical messages. Our contribution is threefold: (1) we analyze propaganda material published by extremist groups and create a contextual text-based model of radical content, (2) we build a model of psychological properties inferred from these material, and (3) we evaluate these models on Twitter to determine the extent to which it is possible to automatically identify online radical tweets. Our results show that radical users do exhibit distinguishable textual, psychological, and behavioural properties. We find that the psychological properties are among the most distinguishing features. Additionally, our results show that textual models using vector embedding features significantly improves the detection over TF-IDF features. We validate our approach on two experiments achieving high accuracy. Our findings can be utilized as signals for detecting online radicalization activities.