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
Toward a Framework Understanding of Online Programs for Countering Violent Extremism
2016 Davies et al. Article
There is an emerging consensus that ideologically-based narratives play a central role in encouraging and sustaining radicalization to violence, and that preventing, arresting, or reversing radicalization requires some means by which to address the effects of these narratives. Countering violent extremism (CVE) is a broad umbrella phrase that covers a wide array of approaches that have been advanced to reduce the radicalizing effects of extremist narratives. There is considerably less agreement, however, regarding the most appropriate means by which the mitigation of extremist narratives might best be accomplished. An important emerging area of interest is the role of the Internet, both as a forum through which narratives are transmitted and as an avenue for delivering CVE programs. At present, very little is known about which principles and practices should inform online CVE initiatives. This study attempts to establish a foundation and framework for these programs: first, by identifying the concepts and constructs which may be most relevant to countering violent extremism online, and second, by examining the available material from six online CVE programs in relation to these concepts. This examination suggests that these programs are lacking strong theoretical foundations and do not address important elements of radicalization, such as contextual factors or identity issues. It is important that future iterations of CVE programs consider not just the specific content of the narratives, but also take into account why these narratives have resonance for particular individuals
Towards a Framework Understanding of Online Programs for Countering Violent Extremism
2016 Davies, G. and Newdecker, C. Journal
There is an emerging consensus that ideologically-based narratives play a central role in encouraging and sustaining radicalization to violence, and that preventing, arresting, or reversing radicalization requires some means by which to address the effects of these narratives. Countering violent extremism (CVE) is a broad umbrella phrase that covers a wide array of approaches that have been advanced to reduce the radicalizing effects of extremist narratives. There is considerably less agreement, however, regarding the most appropriate means by which the mitigation of extremist narratives might best be accomplished. An important emerging area of interest is the role of the Internet, both as a forum through which narratives are transmitted and as an avenue for delivering CVE programs. At present, very little is known about which principles and practices should inform online CVE initiatives. This study attempts to establish a foundation and framework for these programs: first, by identifying the concepts and constructs which may be most relevant to countering violent extremism online, and second, by examining the available material from six online CVE programs in relation to these concepts. This examination suggests that these programs are lacking strong theoretical foundations and do not address important elements of radicalization, such as contextual factors or identity issues. It is important that future iterations of CVE programs consider not just the specific content of the narratives, but also take into account why these narratives have resonance for particular individuals.
Towards the “olive trees of Rome”: exploitation of propaganda devices in the Islamic State’s flagship magazine “Rumiyah”
2020 Lakomy, M. Article
This paper aims to contribute to understanding how the last flagship magazine of the Islamic State - “Rumiyah” - attempted to influence and manipulate Internet users. Its primary objective is to analyze the propaganda methods exploited in all thirteen issues of this magazine. In order to do so this paper utilises content analysis to investigate “propaganda devices”, a concept developed by the American Institute for Propaganda Analysis. It argues that there were four predominant groups of propaganda devices exploited in this magazine. Two of them, i.e. name-calling and glittering generalities, were utilized to create and promote an artificial, black-and-white vision of the world, composed of the “camp of kufr” (camp of disbelief) and the “camp of iman” (camp of faith), embodied by the Islamic State. The third leading propaganda method, transfer, attempted to legitimize the actions and agenda of the “Caliphate” by using the authority of not only Allah, but also the Prophet Muhammad, his companions (Sahabah), as well as selectively chosen Islamic scholars. Finally, the bandwagon served as a means of creating a sense of community between the editors and readers. Other propaganda devices, such as testimonial or plain folks, played strictly secondary roles in the narration of the magazine.
Toxic Narratives: Monitoring Alternative-right Actors
2017 Baldauf, J., Dittrich, M., Hermann, M., Kollberg, B., Lüdecke, R. and Rathje, J. Report
Why do we use the term “toxic narrative”? The concept of “toxic communication” has been established in the English-speaking world since the 1960s. The term has also been borrowed in Germany to refer to linguistic behavior that has a negative influence on its environment. When we speak of toxic narratives, we are referring to accounts of the world that supply the pertinent “events” and interpretations for such communication.

It is necessary to process such narratives – decoding them, examining their core content and classifying them – in order to respond to them cogently and successfully. The present report is intended to make a contribution to this effort.
Tracking Online Hate Speech and Identifying Online ‘Raids’ in the UK
2017 Online Civil Courage Initiative Report
The Online Civil Courage Initiative’s core partner, ISD, has been tracking both positive and negative
responses to terror attacks in the UK this year, to understand how to improve counterspeech in the
UK. This report contains advice for NGOs working towards challenging hate speech and extremism
online with recommendations/suggestions for how they can respond speedily and effectively in the
aftermath of an attack, and improve understanding on the coordinated efforts (online raids) that are
designed to undermine positive speech.
Trans-mediatized terrorism: The Sydney Lindt Café siege
2018 Ali, S., Khattab, U. Article
This article presents an empirical analysis of the Australian media representation of terrorism using the 2014 Sydney Lindt Café siege as a case in point to engage with the notion of moral panic. Deploying critical discourse analysis and case study as mixed methods, insights into trans-media narratives and aftermath of the terrifying siege are presented. While news media appeared to collaborate with the Australian right-wing government in the reporting of terrorism, social media posed challenges and raised security concerns for the state. Social media heightened the drama as sites were variously deployed by the perpetrator, activists and concerned members of the public. The amplified trans-media association of Muslims with terrorism in Australia and its national and global impact, in terms of the political exclusion of Muslims, are best described in this article in the form of an Islamophobic Moral Panic Model, invented for a rethink of the various stages of its occurrence, intensification and institutionalization.
Trends of Anashid Usage in Da‘esh Video Messaging and Implications for Identifying Terrorist Audio and Video
2019 Pieslak, J., Pieslak, B. and Lemieux, A. F. Article
This article examines how Da‘esh utilizes anashid (“Islamic songs” or “recitation”) as soundtrack elements within its video messaging, focusing primarily on a sample set of 755 videos released in 2015. The authors also present the development of an automatic content recognition (ACR) tool that enabled them to engage this large data set. The article then explores the possibilities of ACR for the identification of terrorist audio and video, utilizing the conclusions drawn from the trends of audio usage in Da‘esh video messaging to support the validity and promise of such an approach.

Triggered by Defeat or Victory? Assessing the Impact of Presidential Election Results on Extreme Right-Wing Mobilization Online
2020 Scrivens, R., Burruss, G.W., Holt, T.J., Chermak, S.M., Freilich, J.D. and Frank, R. Article
The theoretical literature from criminology, social movements, and political sociology, among others, includes diverging views about how political outcomes could affect movements. Many theories argue that political defeats motivate the losing side to increase their mobilization while other established models claim the winning side may feel encouraged and thus increase their mobilization. We examine these diverging perspectives in the context of the extreme right online and recent presidential elections by measuring the effect of the 2008 and 2016 election victories of Obama and Trump on the volume of postings on the largest white supremacy web-forum. ARIMA time series using intervention modeling showed a significant and sizable increase in the total number of posts and right-wing extremist posts but no significant change for firearm posts in either election year. However, the volume of postings for all impact measures was highest for the 2008 election.
Trolling Media: Violent Extremist Groups Recruiting Through Socal Media
2015 Chang, M.D. MA Thesis
With the advent and subsequent growth of several new media technologies, violent extremist groups have incorporated social media into recruiting strategies. How are violent extremist groups using social media for recruiting? This thesis explores several new media technologies—websites, blogs, social media, mobile phones, and online gaming—to determine if violent extremist groups rely on social media for recruiting. By comparing the communication of al Qaeda and ISIS, this thesis concludes that violent extremist groups rely on social media, and they employ a wide range of new media technologies to attract and recruit new members. In some instances, virtual interaction still requires face-to-face communication to adequately recruit someone into a violent extremist group.
Turning Away From the Truth: Critique Of Hamami
2013 Al-Muhajir, A.H. Lecture
Demystifying the Abu Mansur Saga
Tweet... If You Dare: How Counter-Terrorism Laws Restrict Freedom of Expression in Spain
2018 Amnesty International Report
Social media users, journalists, lawyers
and musicians have been prosecuted
under Article 578 of the Spanish
Criminal Code, which prohibits “glorifying
terrorism” and “humiliating the victims
of terrorism”. Although this provision
was first introduced in 2000, it is only in
recent years, following its amendment
in 2015, that prosecutions and convictions
under Article 578 have sharply risen.
The result is increasing self-censorship
and a broader chilling effect on freedom
of expression in Spain.
Tweeting for the Caliphate: Twitter as the New Frontier for Jihadist Propaganda
2013 Prucha, N. and Fisher, A. Journal
This article discusses the emergence of jihadist social media strategies, explains how the Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) has used Twitter to disseminate content, and analyzes content shared by JN. Using an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of jihadist propaganda, this article demonstrates how jihadist groups are using Twitter to disseminate links to video content shot on the battlefield in Syria and posted for mass consumption on YouTube.
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.