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
What Do Closed Source Data Tell Us About Lone Actor Terrorist Behavior? A Research Note
2019 Gill, P., Corner, E., McKeeb, A., Hitchen, P. and Betley, P. Article
This article contributes to the growing body of knowledge on loneactor terrorism with the incorporation of closed-source data. The analyses presented investigate the antecedent behaviors of U.K.- based lone-actor terrorists leading up to their planning or conducting a terrorist event. The results suggest that prior to their attack or arrest the vast majority of lone-actor terrorists each demonstrated elements concerning (a) their grievance, (b) an escalation in their intent to act, (c) gaining capability—both psychologically and technically and (d) attack planning. The results also disaggregate our understanding of lone-actor terrorists in two ways. First, we compare the behaviors of the jihadist actors to those of the extreme-right. Second, we visualize Borum’s (2012) continuums of loneness, direction, and motivation. Collectively the results provide insight into the threat assessment and management of potential lone actors
What Does Dabiq Do? ISIS Hermeneutics and Organizational Fractures within Dabiq Magazine
2017 Colas, B. Journal
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)'s flagship English-language magazine, Dabiq, is a puzzle. The magazine is not, despite appearances, primarily designed for direct recruiting efforts or inciting violence against the West. In fact, the primary audiences of Dabiq are English-speaking second generation Muslims or converts, Western policymakers, and a third group of current or would-be members of ISIS who are not integrating with the organization itself. The third audience—those members who are failing to function within the organization—is strange to include in an English-language magazine. Why publish organizational weaknesses, in English? One possibility for this puzzle is that the fundamentalist hermeneutics of ISIS is reflected in their own media efforts. One of the assumptions that ISIS holds about their sacred texts is that each text carries a single meaning that reflects the author's original intent. There might be multiple applications of that intent, but each text can only have one intent, and therefore one meaning. Following this logic, a message meant for one person is unlikely to be of utility for another, and so this may be why ISIS exposes their weaknesses as part of the process of correcting their own members.
What Eye Movements and Facial Expressions Tell Us about User-Friendliness: Testing a Tool for Communicators and Journalists
2018 Lindholm J., Backholm K., and Högväg J. Chapter
Technical solutions can be important when key communicators take on the task of making sense of social media flows during crises. However, to provide situation awareness during high-stress assignments, usability problems must be identified and corrected. In usability studies, where researchers investigate the user-friendliness of a product, several types of data gathering methods can be combined. Methods may include subjective (surveys and observations) and psychophysiological (e.g. skin conductance and eye tracking) data collection. This chapter mainly focuses on how the latter type can provide detailed clues about user-friendliness. Results from two studies are summarised. The tool tested is intended to help communicators and journalists with monitoring and handling social media content during times of crises. Book Edited by Harald Hornmoen and Klas Backhoem.
What is BitChute? Characterizing the “Free Speech” Alternative to YouTube
2020 Trujillo, M., Gruppi, M., Buntain, C. and Horne, B.D. Article
In this paper, we characterize the content and discourse on BitChute, a social video-hosting platform. Launched in 2017 as an alternative to YouTube, BitChute joins an ecosystem of alternative, low content moderation platforms, including Gab, Voat, Minds, and 4chan. Uniquely, BitChute is the first of these alternative platforms to focus on video content and is growing in popularity. Our analysis reveals several key characteristics of the platform. We find that only a handful of channels receive any engagement, and almost all of those channels contain conspiracies or hate speech. This high rate of hate speech on the platform as a whole, much of which is anti-Semitic, is particularly concerning. Our results suggest that BitChute has a higher rate of hate speech than Gab but less than 4chan. Lastly, we find that while some BitChute content producers have been banned from other platforms, many maintain profiles on mainstream social media platforms, particularly YouTube. This paper contributes a first look at the content and discourse on BitChute and provides a building block for future research on low content moderation platforms.
What is Gab? A Bastion of Free Speech or an Alt-Right Echo Chamber?
2018 Zannettou, S., Bradlyn, B., De Cristofaro, E., Kwak, H., Sirivianos, M., Stringhini, G. and Blackburn, J. Article
Over the past few years, a number of new "fringe" communities, like 4chan or certain subreddits, have gained traction on the Web at a rapid pace. However, more often than not, little is known about how they evolve or what kind of activities they attract, despite recent research has shown that they influence how false information reaches mainstream communities. This motivates the need to monitor these communities and analyze their impact on the Web's information ecosystem. In August 2016, a new social network called Gab was created as an alternative to Twitter. It positions itself as putting "people and free speech first'", welcoming users banned or suspended from other social networks. In this paper, we provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first characterization of Gab. We collect and analyze 22M posts produced by 336K users between August 2016 and January 2018, finding that Gab is predominantly used for the dissemination and discussion of news and world events, and that it attracts alt-right users, conspiracy theorists, and other trolls. We also measure the prevalence of hate speech on the platform, finding it to be much higher than Twitter, but lower than 4chan's Politically Incorrect board.
What to Do about the Emerging Threat of Censorship Creep on the Internet
2017 Citron, D.K. Policy
Popular tech companies—Google, Facebook,
Twitter, and others—have strongly protected
free speech online, a policy widely associated
with the legal norms of the United States.
American tech companies, however, operate
globally, and their platforms are subject to regulation
by the European Union, whose member states offer less
protection to expression than does the United States.
European regulators are pressuring tech companies to
control and suppress extreme speech. The regulators’
clear warning is that, if the companies do not comply
“voluntarily,” they will face harsher laws and potential
liability. This regulatory effort runs the risk of censorship
creep, whereby a wide array of protected speech, including
political criticism and newsworthy content, may end up
being removed from online platforms on a global scale.
What’s Love Got To Do With It? Framing ‘JihadJane’ in the US Press
2012 Conway, M. and McInerney, L. Journal
The purpose of this article is to compare and contrast the US press coverage accorded to female terrorist plotter, Colleen LaRose, with that of two male terrorist plotters in order to test whether assertions in the academic literature regarding media treatment of women terrorists stand up to empirical scrutiny. The authors employed TextSTAT software to generate frequency counts of all words contained in 150 newspaper reports on their three subjects and then slotted relevant terms into categories fitting the commonest female terrorist frames, as identified by Nacos’s article in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (2005). The authors’ findings confirm that women involved in terrorism receive significantly more press coverage and are framed vastly differently in the US press than their male counterparts.
Where are All the Cyber Terrorists? From Waiting for Cyber Attack to Understanding Audiences
2016 Droogan, J. and Waldek, L. Article
This paper presents a review of recent academic scholarship and debates on cyber terrorism, and more broadly of what is known about terrorist's direct use of the Internet as weapon and, less directly, as a communication device. It presents an overview of a field of discourse that has, since its inception, provided a number of foreboding and even doomsday warnings about the future of cyber terrorism, which in the main have failed to come to realization. First, it surveys why these gloomy warnings regarding future proliferation of cyber terrorism have not been born out in practice, and explains that rather than looking for instances of the Internet being used directly as a weapon by terrorists, current debates in academic and policy circles have shifted to trying to measure and ascertain the role that the Internet plays in spreading and supporting extremist discourse to ever wider audiences. It continues by posing a series of questions regarding online audiences that are in need of future research if we are to better understand the role of the Internet in spreading and supporting violent extremist discourse and cultivating terrorism, most importantly the role of audiences as autonomous agents in navigating, reacting and responding to online violent extremist materials.
White Hoods And Keyboards: An Examination Of The Klan And Ku Klux Klan Websites
2011 Selepak, A.G. PhD Thesis
The Ku Klux Klan is the oldest and most well-known extremist group in the United States with a history dating back nearly 150 years. The Klan has been featured in numerous movies, books, documentaries, and been the center of countless news stories. But, in recent years, the Ku Klux Klan has been all but forgotten by researchers who believed the Klan was a dying organization with a nearly extinct membership of individuals who could not accept the end of segregation and the Klan‟s defeat during the Civil Rights Movement. But, recent research by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows the Klan is not extinct, nor is the Klan dying. Instead, the Ku Klux Klan is growing with new members joining across the country and the world. Research has shown the recent growth in membership has been caused by the election of the first black President of the United States, a poor economy and high unemployment, and an increase in the minority population of the United States brought on by immigration. In addition, research has suggested the growth in groups like the Ku Klux Klan has been caused by an increase in the number of Ku Klux Klan web sites on the Internet. This study used grounded theory and a mixed-method approach to examine the proliferation of Klan web sites and to achieve a better understanding of the Ku Klux Klan and its recent rise in membership. Using content analysis of current Klan web sites and in-depth interviews with current Klan leaders, this study examined the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan, the purpose of the Ku Klux Klan in the 21st Century, why the Klan creates and maintains web sites, and examined the membership of the Ku Klux Klan. Based on analysis of Klan web sites and interviews with Klan leaders, Ku Klux Klan beliefs fall under two general themes. First, the Klan believes white Christians are held to a double standard and not allowed to have pride in their culture and heritage, while at the same time treated unfairly by the media, society, and the government. Second, the Klan believes in racial separation, and the need for whites to either remove themselves from a society perceived as against them or to combat that society through political and legal involvement. Results suggest the Klan creates web sites not for the sole purpose of recruit, but instead, to inform the general public of the Klan‟s goals to combat a double standard in society, and to market the Klan to greater segment of the American population, by using the Internet to rebrand the image of the Klan as an organization dedicated to preserving white, American, and Christian culture. In addition, results indicate no one group exists that can claim the title of “Ku Klux Klan.” Instead, this study found a variety of Klan organizations exist with competing ideologies and beliefs. Using a mixed-methods approach of incorporating quantitative and qualitative data, this study found two types of Klan organizations exist. One Klan is a traditional fraternal organization, while the other is a more radical and extremist organization intent on becoming a paramilitary organization, church or political party. Members of the Klan were generally observed to be average American citizens with families. More specifically, Klan members were revealed to be white, politically and religiously conservative Christians, many of whom were military veterans and owned their own business, and in general were opposed to a changing world and changing American society.
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.
White Supremacists, Oppositional Culture and the World Wide Web
2005 Adams, J. and Roscigno, V.J. Journal
Over the previous decade, white supremacist organizations have tapped into the ever emerging possibilities offered by the World Wide Web. Drawing from prior sociological work that has examined this medium and its uses by white supremacist organizations, this article advances the understanding of recruitment, identity and action by providing a synthesis of interpretive and more systematic analyses of thematic content, structure and associations within white supremacist discourse. Analyses, which rely on TextAnalyst, highlight semantic networks of thematic content from principal white supremacist websites, and delineate patterns and thematic associations relative to the three requisites of social movement culture denoted in recent research - namely identity, interpretational framing of cause and effect, and political efficacy. Our results suggest that nationalism, religion and definitions of responsible citizenship are interwoven with race to create a sense of collective identity for these groups, their members and potential recruits. Moreover, interpretative frameworks that simultaneously identify threatening social issues and provide corresponding recommendations for social action are employed. Importantly, and relative to prior work, results how how the interpretation of problems, their alleged causes and the call to action are systematically linked. We conclude by discussing the framing of white supremacy issues, the organizations' potential for recruitment, and how a relatively new communication medium, the Internet, has been cheaply and efficiently integrated into the white supremacist repertoire. Broader implications for social movement theory are also explored.
Who Are the Online Extremists Among Us? Sociodemographic Characteristics, Social Networking, and Online Experiences of Those Who Produce Online Hate Materials
2018 Costello, M. and Hawdon, J. Article
What are the factors associated with the production of online hate material? Past research has focused on attributes associated with seeing and being targeted by online hate material, but we know surprisingly little about the creators of such material. This study seeks to address this gap in the knowledge, using a random sample of Americans, aged 15–36. Descriptive results indicate that nearly one-fifth of our sample reported producing online material that others would likely interpret as hateful or degrading. We utilize a logistic regression to understand more about these individuals. Results indicate that men are significantly more likely than women to produce online hate material. This fits with the broader pattern of men being more apt to engage in deviant and criminal behaviors, both online and offline. Other results show that the use of particular social networking sites, such as Reddit, Tumblr, and general messaging boards, is positively related to the dissemination of hate material online. Counter to expectations, the use of first-person shooter games actually decreased the likelihood of producing hate material online. This could suggest that violent videogames serve as outlet for aggression, and not a precursor. In addition, we find that individuals who are close to an online community, or spend more time in areas populated by hate, are more inclined to produce hate material. We expected that spending more time online would correlate with the production of hate, but this turned out not to be true. In fact, spending more time online actually reduces the likelihood of doing so. This result could indicate that individuals who spend more time online are focused on a particular set of tasks, as opposed to using the Internet to disseminate hate.
Who Dissemnates Rumiyah? Examining the Relative Influence of Sympathiser and Non-Sympathiser Twitter Users
2018 Grinnell D., Macdonald S., Mair D. & Lorenzo-Dus N. 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.
In a speech delivered at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017, the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called on social media companies to do more to remove and block terrorist content from their platforms [1]. In the speech she stated that the average lifespan of online propaganda from the so-called Islamic State (IS) was 36 hours. For such content to be disrupted effectively, she claimed that this figure needed to be reduced to one to two hours. This has since come to be known as the ‘golden window’: if terrorist material can be detected and removed within one to two hours, its spread will be prevented.
Who Matters Online: Measuring influence, evaluating content and countering violent extremism in online social networks
2013 Berger, J.M. and Strathearn, B. Report
It is relatively easy to identify tens of thousands of social media users who have an interest in violent ideologies, but very difficult to figure out which users are worth watching. For students of extremist movements and those working to counter violent extremism online, deciphering the signal amid the noise can prove incredibly daunting. This paper sets out a first step in solving that problem. The authors have devised a scoring system to find out which social media accounts within a specific extremist circle were most influential and most prone to be influenced (a tendency we called exposure).
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.

Why Terrorists Weep: The Socio-Cultural Practices of Jihadi Militants
2015 Hegghammer, T. Lecture
Paul Wilkinson Memorial Lecture, University of St. Andrews, 16 April 2015
Why the Internet is Not Increasing Terrorism
2014 Benson, D.C. Journal
Policymakers and scholars fear that the Internet has increased the ability of transnational terrorists, like al Qaeda, to attack targets in the West, even in the face of increased policing and military efforts. Although access to the Internet has increased across the globe, there has been no corresponding increase in completed transnational terrorist attacks. This analysis examines the causal logics—which have led to the conventional wisdom—and demonstrates both theoretically and empirically that the Internet is not a force multiplier for transnational terrorist organizations. Far from being at a disadvantage on the Internet, state security organs actually gain at least as much utility from the Internet as terrorist groups do, meaning that at worst the Internet leaves the state in the same position vis-a`-vis terrorist campaigns as it was prior to the Internet.
Wie Cyberterrorismus stattfindet - und warum wir ihn nicht sehen
2020 Enghofer, S., Müller, D. and Parrino, A. Chapter
Verschwörungstheorien von im Untergrund herrschenden „Echsenmenschen“ oder einer „flachen Erde“ mögen in den Augen eines aufgeklärten Menschen abwegig und bizarr erscheinen, doch tatsächlich erfahren diese Narrative dank dem Internet erhöhte Beachtung. Schon lange sind Ufos, die „false-flag-Anschläge“ von 9/11 und die gefälschte Mondlandung Teil eines virtuellen Erklärungsangebots an Menschen, die grundsätzliches Misstrauen gegenüber traditionellen Medien oder dem „Mainstream-Glauben“ hegen. Während diese Devianz in der bisherigen Form keine oder kaum Auswirkungen auf gesellschaftliche Prozesse hatte, ist ab 2016 eine Zeitenwende erkennbar. Verschiedene Indizien geben Anlass zur Sorge, denn obwohl sog. „alternative Fakten“ – Falschmeldungen, Fake-News und Desinformationen – keine gänzlich neuen politischen Phänomene darstellen, erhöht sich deren virulente Wirkung durch das Internet. Dabei sticht insbesondere ein Vorfall hervor, der als Präzedenzfall einer Wirklichkeitsmanipulation mit weitreichender Implikation gelten kann: #Pizzagate.
Wie Extrem ist die Rechte in Europa? Untersuchung von Überschneidungen in der deutschen Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter
2020 Ahmed, R. and Pisoiu, D. VOX-Pol Publication
Ziel dieser Arbeit ist es, die Überschneidungen in der Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter zu ermitteln und insbesondere festzustellen, inwieweit verschiedene Gruppen in der Szene tatsächlich auf die gleiche Weise über dieselben Themen sprechen, trotz offensichtlicher Unterschiede im Tonfall und den zugrunde liegenden Ideologien. Wir verwenden einen Mischmethodenansatz: Zunächst wollen wir einen oberflächlichen Einblick in die extrem rechte Szene auf Twitter in ganz Europa gewinnen, und dann führen wir bei drei ausgewählten Gruppen in Deutschland eine detaillierte Frame-Analyse aus, um die impliziten und expliziten Überschneidungen zwischen ihnen zu bestimmen und so die quantitativen Angaben zu ergänzen, damit die Bedeutung detailliert analysiert werden kann.
Winning the Cyberwar Against ISIS
2017 Byers, A., and Mooney, T. Article
Despite the efforts of the United States and its allies to fight the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), the group remains a formidable danger. It holds territory in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and Syria and directs cells in Bangladesh, Egypt, France, the North Caucasus, and Yemen. ISIS operatives have conducted terrorist attacks in Europe—including one in November 2015 in Paris that killed 130 people—and lone wolves inspired by its propaganda have committed violence throughout the West. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, like that of former President Barack Obama, has publicly committed itself to defeating ISIS using conventional military means. This approach has its benefits, but it ignores a significant part of the threat posed by ISIS. The group is strong not only on the battlefield but also in cyberspace, where it uses sophisticated techniques to communicate with sympathizers, spread propaganda, and recruit new members all around the world. As one ISIS defector told The Washington Post in 2015, “The media people are more important than the soldiers.”