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
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.

Who views online extremism? Individual attributes leading to exposure
2016 Costello, M., Hawdon, J., Ratliff, T. and Grantham, 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.”
Women and Violent Radicalization
2016 Conseil du statut de la femme Report
As myths, stereotypes and media representations circulate about the several hundred Western women who have gone to Syria and joined the jihadists, it seems to us essential to try to understand the motives and explanatory factors behind the radicalization of these girls and women. What mechanisms and processes lead them to become radicalized and to join such groups?
Who are these women who radicalize to the point of risking their safety and well-being? Above all, how shall we understand the gender dimensions of the current phenomena of violent radicalization?

Until now, documentation of the radicalization of girls and women in Québec, with a gender-differentiated perspective, has been non-existent. We therefore decided that it was essential to do more than offer a summary document, by exploring empirically, across Québec, the radicalization of women who have joined, or tried to join, jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.
Women's Connectivity in Extreme Networks
2016 Manritque, P., Cao, Z., Gabriel, A., Horgan, J., Gill, P., Qi, H., Restrepo, E.M., Johnson, D., Wuchty, S., Song, C. and Johnson, N. Article
A popular stereotype is that women will play more minor roles than men as environments become more dangerous and aggressive. Our analysis of new longitudinal data sets from offline and online operational networks [for example, ISIS (Islamic State)] shows that although men dominate numerically, women emerge with superior network connectivity that can benefit the underlying system’s robustness and survival. Our observations suggest new female-centric approaches that could be used to affect such networks. They also raise questions about how individual contributions in high-pressure systems are evaluated.
Women, Social Media and Violent Extremism
2015 Chaudry, R. Video
As a growing number of women engage in violent extremism, urgent questions about their recruitment and motivations are yet to be answered, particularly on the role of social media. Extremist organizations such as the Islamic State are adept at using social media messages to attract Western followers. Less clear is what tools can be used to deter recruitment when female extremists are taking a bigger part in orchestrating these campaigns. Join the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum at the U.S. Institute of Peace on May 10 for a discussion of women, social media and extremism.

In the view of many analysts, coercion is the reason most women join violent extremist groups, insurgencies and revolutionary organizations. There are, however, more sophisticated, nuanced and complex explanations such as a search for identity and sense of belonging. At the forum, a panel of experts will consider these motives and the means to address them online in the context of countering violent extremism. Join the conversation on Twitter with #CPRF.
Worldwide Online Jihad versus the Gaming Industry Reloaded – Ventures of the Web
2010 Prucha, N. Chapter
[Chapter in, "New Approaches to the Analysis of Jihadism: On and Offline", Rüdiger Lohlker (ed.)] Jihadism has been an important issue of public discussions since 9/11. Internet media have been used by Jihadis as means of communication, propaganda, recruitment, and even training purposes. In this volume, the processes of interaction on Jihadi internet sites are analysed. Particular attention lays on the mechanisms of spread of propaganda via the internet by diverse technical means. The process of transformation of Islamic knowledge into Jihadi knowledge, the rhetorics of videos, the development of South Asian Jihadi organisations and some conceptual issues are discussed.
Writing On The Walls: Discourses On Bolivian Immigrants In Chilean Meme Humor
2019 Haynes, N. Article
Internet memes have become a popular form through which northern Chileans express frustrations with their marginalization on global, national, and local levels. At the same time, many of these memes criticize Bolivian immigrants for using resources and taking jobs from “true Chileans.” The humorous nature of these texts mitigates the extremity of embedded racial and nationalist ideologies, which are more explicitly expressed in political speech, news media, and quotidian language. This article uses critical discourse analysis to trace ideological formations across multiple online and offline instantiations, making visible a continuum of extreme speech. Through these connections, we see how anti-immigrant discourses position northern residents in a formation of nested marginality. Memes are thus a central way that disenfranchised Chilean citizens reinforce a worldview in which they consider themselves deserving of greater access to resources than Bolivians, precisely because of their marginalized position in relation to the nation.
You Too Can Be Awlaki
2011 Brachman, J.M. and Levine, A.N. Article
Youth and Violent Extremism on Social Media: Mapping the Research
2017 Alava, S., Frau-Meigs, D., and Hassan, G. Report
Does social media lead vulnerable individuals to resort to violence? Many people believe it
does. And they respond with online censorship, surveillance and counter-speech. But what
do we really know about the Internet as a cause, and what do we know about the impact
of these reactions? All over the world, governments and Internet companies are making
decisions on the basis of assumptions about the causes and remedies to violent attacks. The
challenge is to have analysis and responses firmly grounded. The need is for a policy that is
constructed on the basis of facts and evidence, and not founded on hunches – or driven by
panic and fearmongering.
It is in this context that UNESCO has commissioned the study titled Youth and Violent
Extremism on Social Media – Mapping the Research. This work provides a global mapping
of research (mainly during 2012-16) about the assumed roles played by social media in
violent radicalization processes, especially when they affect youth and women. The research
responds to the belief that the Internet at large is an active vector for violent radicalization
that facilitates the proliferation of violent extremist ideologies. Indeed, much research
shows that protagonists are indeed heavily spread throughout the Internet. There is a
growing body of knowledge about how terrorists use cyberspace. Less clear, however, is
the impact of this use, and even more opaque is the extent to which counter measures are
helping to promote peaceful alternatives. While Internet may play a facilitating role, it is not
established that there is a causative link between it and radicalization towards extremism,
violent radicalization, or the commission of actual acts of extremist violence.
Youth Exposure to Hate in the Online Space: An Exploratory Analysis
2020 Harriman, N., Shortland, N., Su, M., Cote, T., Testa, M.A. and Savoia, E. Article
Today’s youth have almost universal access to the internet and frequently engage in social networking activities using various social media platforms and devices. This is a phenomenon that hate groups are exploiting when disseminating their propaganda. This study seeks to better understand youth exposure to hateful material in the online space by exploring predictors of such exposure including demographic characteristics (age, gender and race), academic performance, online behaviours, online disinhibition, risk perception, and parents/guardians’ supervision of online activities. We implemented a cross-sectional study design, using a paper questionnaire, in two high schools in Massachusetts (USA), focusing on students 14 to 19 years old. Logistic regression models were used to study the association between independent variables (demographics, online behaviours, risk perception, parental supervision) and exposure to hate online. Results revealed an association between exposure to hate messages in the online space and time spent online, academic performance, communicating with a stranger on social media, and benign online disinhibition. In our sample, benign online disinhibition was also associated with students’ risk of encountering someone online that tried to convince them of racist views. This study represents an important first step in understanding youth’s risk factors of exposure to hateful material online.
Youth Online and at Risk: Radicalisation Facilitated by the Internet
2011 Royal Canadian Mounted Police Report
While the internet provides access to rich educational experiences, great entertainment, and the chance to connect with friends around the clock, it also creates a number of risks that young people, parents, and guardians need to be aware of. There are the commonly known concerns of identity theft, online predators, and cyber-bullying but there is another issue that we need to collectively work to address— Radicalisation to violence. This informational resource strives to increase the awareness of how the internet is being used to radicalise and recruit youth in North America.
‘Bomb-Making for Beginners’: Inside al Al-Qaeda E-Learning Course
2013 Stenersen, A. Journal
This study explores how terrorists utilise the Internet to learn bomb-making skills. Unlike previous studies, it does not focus on assessing the quality of online bomb recipes. Rather, it discusses the efforts being made by on-line jihadists to help others learn by providing so-called “e-learning courses.” As of today, such courses have few active participants yet they tend to attract large interest – indicating that there is a demand among Al-Qaeda’s online sympathisers for developing this concept further.