Welcome to VOX-Pol’s online Library, a research and teaching resource, which collects in one place a large volume of publications related to various aspects of violent online political extremism.
Our searchable database contains material in a variety of different formats including downloadable PDFs, videos, and audio files comprising e-books, book chapters, journal articles, research reports, policy documents and reports, and theses.
All open access material collected in the Library is easy to download. Where the publications are only accessible through subscription, the Library will take you to the publisher’s page from where you can access the material.
We will continue to add more material as it becomes available with the aim of making it the most comprehensive online Library in this field.
If you have any material you think belongs in the Library—whether your own or another authors—please contact us at email@example.com and we will consider adding it to the Library. It is also our aim to make the Library a truly inclusive multilingual facility and we thus welcome contributions in all languages.
Visual Jihad: Constructing the “Good Muslim” in Online Jihadist Magazines
Expressing and Challenging Racist Discourse on Facebook: How Social Media Weaken the “Spiral of Silence” Theory
Researching far right groups on Twitter: Methodological challenges 2.0
Detection Of Jihadism In Social Networks Using Big Data
|2019||Rebollo, C. S., Puente, C., Palacios, R., Piriz, C., Fuentes, J. P. and Jarauta, J.||Article|
|Social networks are being used by terrorist organizations to distribute messages with the intention of influencing people and recruiting new members. The research presented in this paper focuses on the analysis of Twitter messages to detect the leaders orchestrating terrorist networks and their followers. A big data architecture is proposed to analyze messages in real time in order to classify users according to diferent parameters like level of activity, the ability to infuence other users, and the contents of their messages. Graphs have been used to analyze how the messages propagate through the network, and this involves a study of the followers based on retweets and general impact on other users. Ten, fuzzy clustering techniques were used to classify users in profiles, with the advantage over other classifcations techniques of providing a probability for each profile instead of a binary categorization. Algorithms were tested using public database from Kaggle and other Twitter extraction techniques. The resulting profiles detected automatically by the system were manually analyzed, and the parameters that describe each profile correspond to the type of information that any expert may expect. Future applications are not limited to detecting terrorist activism. Human resources departments can apply the power of profle identification to automatically classify candidates, security teams can detect undesirable clients in the financial or insurance sectors, and immigration officers can extract additional insights with these|
Addressing the New Landscape of Terrorism: Towards Formulating Actionable Response
|This report presents the key findings from the second international conference “Addressing the New Landscape of Terrorism: Towards Formulating Actionable Response” which was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 24-28 July 2017. Sixty-five delegates presented at the conference. Uniquely, for such a conference, the speakers were academics, front line practitioners, social and community actors, government officials and youth drawn from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sweden, Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Other attendees included representatives from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission of Thailand, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Security Council of Thailand, the Royal Thai Police, the Thai Ministry of Defense and various security agencies in Thailand, the UNODC, the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand, the Australian Embassy in Thailand, the United States of America Embassy in Thailand, the French Embassy in Thailand and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium. This report provides summaries of each of the presentations that were delivered at the conference, before drawing out the key themes, which emerged and policy recommendations.|
Dealing with the dark side: The effects of right-wing extremist and Islamist extremist propaganda from a social identity perspective
|2019||Rieger, D., Frischlich, L. and Bente, G.||Article|
|Right-wing extremists and Islamist extremists try to recruit new followers by addressing their national (for instance, German) or religious (Muslim) social identity via online propaganda videos. Two studies examined whether capitalizing on a shared group-membership affects the emotional and cognitive response towards extremist propaganda. In both studies, Germans/non-migrants, Muslim migrants and control participants (N = 235) were confronted with right-wing extremist and Islamist extremist videos. Emotional and cognitive effects of students (Study 1) and apprentices (Study 2) were assessed. Results showed a general negative evaluation of extremist videos. More relevant, in-group propaganda led to more emotional costs in both studies. Yet, the responses varied depending on educational level: students reported more negative emotions and cognitions after in-group directed videos, while apprentices reported more positive emotions and cognitions after in-group directed propaganda. Results are discussed considering negative social identities.|
Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online in 2018: The Year in Review
|2019||Conway, M.||VOX-Pol Publication|
|This report treats developments in the violent extremist and terrorist online scene(s) in the 12-month period from 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2018.1 It is divided into three parts: Part I focuses on the online activities of violent jihadis, particularly the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (hereafter IS); Part II supplies information on contemporary extreme right online activity; and Part III identifies issues in the violent extremism and terrorism online realm that bear watching in 2019.|
In terms of overarching trends, the focus of policymakers, internet companies, media, and thus also publics has, since 2014, been almost exclusively on IS’s online activity. A growing concern with extreme right activity, both its online and offline variants, began to be apparent in 2017 however, especially in the wake of events in Charlottesville. This solidified in 2018 due to a number of factors, including a decrease in IS terrorist attacks in the West and an uptick in extreme right and hate attacks and terrorist events, a number of the latter of which appeared to have significant online components. Having said this, IS is still active on the ground in numerous locales globally and continues to produce and widely disseminate online content, as do a large number of other groups that share core tenets of its ideology. IS may be down therefore, but it is certainly not out.
Organised and Ambient Digital Racism: Multidirectional Flows in the Irish Digital Sphere
|This article is concerned with the distinction between acceptable race talk in social media and organised, extreme or ‘frozen’ racism which is considered hate speech and removed. While in the literature this distinction is used to point to different variants, styles and mutations of racism, in social media platforms and in European regulatory frameworks it becomes policy. The empirical part of the article considers this distinction drawing upon a series of posts following a stabbing incident in a small Irish town, which organised Twitter accounts sought to connect to terrorism. The empirical analysis examines the tweets of those accounts and the comments left on the Facebook page and website of one of the main Irish online news outlets. The analysis shows few if any differences between the two, concluding that there is a blending of supremacist and everyday, ambient racist discourses. This blending indicates the operation of a transnational contagion, given the shared vocabularies and discourses. It further problematises the distinction between ‘illegal hate speech’ and ‘acceptable race talk’, and throws into question the principle underlying both the policies of social media as well as the European efforts to de-toxify the digital public sphere.|
Public–Private Collaboration to Counter the Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes: What Can be Learnt from Efforts on Terrorist Financing?
|Notwithstanding inherent differences between the counterterrorist financing regime and the regulatory regime governing communication service providers, there are clear benefits in taking lessons learnt from longstanding efforts on terrorist financing into account when developing a response to the online terrorist threat.|
Immigrant, Nationalist and Proud: A Twitter Analysis of Indian Diaspora Supporters for Brexit and Trump
|2019||Leidig, E. C.||Article|
|The Brexit referendum to leave the EU and Trump’s success in the US general election in 2016 sparked new waves of discussion on nativism, nationalism, and the far right. Within these analyses, however, very little attention has been devoted towards exploring the transnational ideological circulation of Islamophobia and anti-establishment sentiment, especially amongst diaspora and migrant networks. This article thus explores the role of the Indian diaspora as mediators in populist radical right discourse in the West. During the Brexit referendum and Trump’s election and presidency, a number of Indian diaspora voices took to Twitter to express pro-Brexit and pro-Trump views. This article presents a year-long qualitative study of these users. It highlights how these diasporic Indians interact and engage on Twitter in order to signal belonging on multiple levels: as individuals, as an imaginary collective non-Muslim diaspora, and as members of (populist radical right) Twitter society. By analysing these users’ social media performativity, we obtain insight into how social media spaces may help construct ethnic and (trans)national identities according to boundaries of inclusion/exclusion. This article demonstrates how some Indian diaspora individuals are embedded into exclusivist national political agendas of the populist radical right in Western societies.|
Making Sense of Jihadi Stratcom: The Case of the Islamic State
|This article explores why jihadis make propaganda. Through the analytical lens of Bockstette’s 2008 framework for jihadi communication strategies, it assesses two of the Islamic State’s most important doctrinal texts on media jihad—the first, a little-known speech by Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir that was published posthumously in 2010, and the second, a field-guide prepared by the Islamic State’s official publishing house, the Himmah Library, in 2015. After drawing out the core insights, similarities and presuppositions of each text, it discusses the enduring salience of Bockstette’s model on the one hand and these two texts on the other, noting that, while it is imprudent to make policy predictions based on them alone, so too would it be remiss to ignore the strategic insights they contain.|
From Directorate of Intelligence to Directorate of Everything: The Islamic State’s Emergent Amni-Media Nexus
|2019||Almohammad, A. and Winter, C.||Article|
|This article, which is based on original interview data gathered from eastern Syria between January and October 2018, examines the emergent dominance of the Islamic State’s Directorate of General Security (DGS). We track how this institution, which is currently operating through a network of diwan-specific security offices grouped under the Unified Security Center (USC), has come to oversee and manage an increasingly wide array of the group’s insurgent activities—including intelligence and military operations and religious and managerial affairs. Focusing in particular on its role in the context of media production—which comprises anything from facilitation and security to monitoring, distribution and evaluation—we illustrate the critical importance of this most elusive directorate, positing that, in its current form, it could stand to facilitate the survival of the Islamic State for months—if not years—to come.|
The Alt-Right and Global Information Warfare
|2019||Bevensee, E. and Reid Ross, A.||Article|
|The Alt-Right is a neo-fascist white supremacist movement that is involved in violent extremism and shows signs of engagement in extensive disinformation campaigns. Using social media data mining, this study develops a deeper understanding of such targeted disinformation campaigns and the ways they spread. It also adds to the available literature on the endogenous and exogenous influences within the US far right, as well as motivating factors that drive disinformation campaigns, such as geopolitical strategy. This study is to be taken as a preliminary analysis to indicate future methods and follow-on research that will help develop an integrated approach to understanding the strategies and associations of the modern fascist movement.|
Visual Jihad: Constructing the “Good Muslim” in Online Jihadist Magazines
|2019||MacDonald, S. and Lorenzo-Dus, Nuria||Article|
|Images are known to have important effects on human perception and persuasion. Jihadist groups are also known to make strategic use of emotive imagery and symbolism for persuasive ends. Yet until recently studies of the online magazines published by violent jihadist groups largely focused on their textual, not their image, content and, while the image content of these magazines is now the subject of a burgeoning number of studies, few of these compare the images used by different groups. This article accordingly offers a cross-group comparison, examining the image content of a total of thirty-nine issues of five online magazines published by four different jihadist groups. Starting with a content analysis, it shows that the images’ most common focus is non-leader jihadis. Using a news values analysis, it then shows how these images of non-leader jihadis are used to visually construct the identity of a “good Muslim.” This construct is characterized by three traits, each corresponding to a different news value: fulfilled (personalization); active (consonance); and respected (prominence). Moreover, these traits are intertwined: fulfillment comes from responding actively to the call to violent jihad, which in turn promises respect. The article concludes by highlighting some subtle differences between how the news values of personalization, consonance, and prominence are realized in the different magazines, and by discussing the implications of the “good Muslim” construct for efforts to develop countermessages.|
Expressing and Challenging Racist Discourse on Facebook: How Social Media Weaken the “Spiral of Silence” Theory
|2019||Chaudhry, I. and Gruzd, A.||Article|
|This article examines the discursive practices of Facebook users who use the platform to express racist views. We analyzed 51,991 public comments posted to 119 news stories about race, racism, or ethnicity on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Facebook page. We examined whether users who hold racist viewpoints (the vocal minority) are less likely to express views that go against the majority view for fear of social isolation. According to the “spiral of silence” theory, the vocal minority would presumably fear this isolation effect. However, our analysis shows that on Facebook, a predominantly nonanonymous and moderated platform, the vocal minority are comfortable expressing unpopular views, questioning the explanatory power of this popular theory in the online context. Based on automated analysis of 8,636 comments, we found 64 percent mentioned race or ethnicity, and 18 percent exhibited some form of othering. A manual coding of 1,161 comments showed that 18 percent exhibited some form of othering, and 25 percent countered the racist discourse. In sum, while Facebook provides space to express racist discourse, users also turn to this platform to counter the hateful narratives.|
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.|
Flashback as a Rhetorical Online Battleground: Debating the (Dis)guise of the Nordic Resistance Movement
|2019||Blomberg, H. and Stier J.||Article|
|The right-wing Swedish Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) is increasingly active on social media. Using discursive psychology, this text explores the rhetorical organization of text and rhetorical resources used on the Swedish online forum Flashback. The aim is to reveal and problematize truth claims about NRM made by antagonists and protagonists. Questions|
are (1) how and what do NRM antagonists and protagonists convey in Flashback posts about NRM, and its ideology and members? (2) how do NRM antagonists and protagonists make truth claims about NRM in Flashback posts? The empirical material consisting of 1546 Flashback posts analyzed to identify typical discussions on “NMR’s true nature”; accomplished
social actions stemming from the posts. Findings show that the Flashback thread can be understood as being a rhetorical battle that concerns the “truth” about NRM, where a variety of rhetorical resources are used to render statements credibility and those involved legitimacy.
"The Lions Of Tomorrow" A News Value Analysis Of Child Images In Jihadi Magazines
|2018||Watkin, A. and Looney, S.||Article|
|This article reports and discusses the results of a study that investigated photographic images of children in five online terrorist magazines to understand the roles of children in these groups. The analysis encompasses issues of Inspire, Dabiq, Jihad Recollections (JR), Azan, and Gaidi Mtanni (GM) from 2009 to 2016. The total number of images was ninety-four. A news value framework was applied that systematically investigated what values the images held that resulted in them being “newsworthy” enough to be published. This article discusses the key findings, which were that Dabiq distinguished different roles for boys and girls, portrayed fierce and prestigious boy child perpetrators, and children flourishing under the caliphate; Inspire and Azan focused on portraying children as victims of Western-backed warfare; GM portrayed children supporting the cause peacefully; and JR contained no re-occurring findings.|
Researching far right groups on Twitter: Methodological challenges 2.0
|2018||Crosset, V., Tanner, S. and Campana, A||Article|
|The Internet poses a number of challenges for academics. Internet specificities such as anonymity, the decontextualisation of discourse, the misuse or non-use of references raise methodological questions about the quality and the authenticity of the data available online. This is particularly true when dealing with extremist groups and grass-root militants that cultivate secrecy. Based on a study of the far-right on Twitter, this article explores these methodological issues. It discusses the qualitative indicators we have developed to determine whether a given Twitter account should be included in the sample or not. By using digital traces drawn from profiles, interactions, content and through other visual information, we recontextualize user’s profile and analyze how digital traces participate in providing far right ideas with a wider representation.|
The Ungovernability of Digital Hate Culture
|Social media and the Internet play an important role in the proliferation of hateful and extreme speech. Looking to contemporary networks of digitally mediated extreme right-wing communication, this essay explores the form, dynamics, and potential governance of digital hate culture. It focuses on the cultural practices and imagination present in the networks of digital hate culture to illuminate how two frames, the Red Pill and white genocide, unify the different groups that take part in these networks. After providing a high-level overview of these networks, this essay explains three formal features of digital hate culture that make it ungovernable: its swarm structure, its exploitation of inconsistencies in web governance between different actors, and its use of coded language to avoid moderation by government or private sector actors. By outlining its cultural style and ungovernable features, this essay provides policy professionals and researchers with an understanding of contemporary digital hate culture and provides suggestions for future approaches to consider when attempting to counter and disrupt the networks on which it depends.|
Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism A Case Study of the Redirect Method
|2018||Helmus, C. T., Klein, K.||Featured|
|The number of programs dedicated to countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown in recent years, yet a fundamental gap remains in the understanding of the effectiveness of such programs. This is particularly the case for CVE campaigns, which are increasingly conducted in the online space. The goal of this report is to help CVE campaign planners better evaluate the impact of online efforts. It reviews prior assessments of online CVE campaigns, provides recommendations for future assessments, and provides a case study of one particular CVE campaign — the Redirect Method. A limited evaluation of the Redirect Method process variables suggests that the implementers are able to use advertisements linking to counterextremist videos to effectively expose individuals searching for violent jihadist or violent far-right content to content that offers alternative narratives. Users clicked on these ads at a rate on par with industry standards. However, as is the case with other CVE evaluations, this partial evaluation did not assess the impact of the video content on user attitudes or behavior. The potentially highly radical nature of the Redirect Method's target audience makes evaluation of the campaign particularly complicated and therefore might necessitate the recruitment of former extremists to help gauge audience response. Alternatively, it might be advisable to analyze user comments to understand how a subsample of users respond to the content.|
Radikal Online - Das Internet und die Radikalisierung von Jugendlichen: eine Metaanalyse zum Forschungsfeld
|2018||Knipping-Sorokin, R., Stumpf, T.||Featured|
|Der Beitrag befasst sich mit dem Einfluss des Internets auf Meinungsbildungsprozesse in Gestalt von Radikalisierung Jugendlicher in Deutschland. Dafür wird in einer metaanalytischen|
Vorgehensweise das Forschungsfeld zu Online-Radikalisierung im deutschen Forschungsdiskurs, ergänzt durch relevante internationale Befunde, genau sondiert und aufgeschlüsselt. Wie
sich zeigt, ist das bestehende Wissen dazu äußerst bruchstückhaft; lediglich einzelne Facetten wurden im komplexen Zusammenwirken vieler Faktoren eines Radikalisierungsverlaufs bisher
untersucht. Um mehr über die Hintergründe zu Online-Radikalisierung Jugendlicher zu erfahren, besteht die Notwendigkeit eines interdisziplinären und multimethodischen Vorgehens,
zu dem insbesondere die Kulturanthropologie mit ihren Methoden und emischen Perspektiven auf lebensweltliche Zusammenhänge einen wichtigen Beitrag leisten kann. Die vorliegende
Metaanalyse bietet neben einer theoretischen Fundierung und begrifflichen Einordnung eine strukturierte Statusaufnahme und Auswertung der aktuellen Forschungslandschaft
zu der Rolle des Internets auf die Radikalisierung von jungen Menschen. Die Arbeit identifiziert Erkenntnisse und zeigt aktuelle Forschungsdesiderata auf. Die vorliegende Studie bietet
somit einen systematischen Überblick über die deutsche Forschungslandschaft und kann als Grundlage für weitere Forschung auf diesem Bereich genutzt werden.
Countering Online Propaganda and Extremism: The Dark Side of Digital Diplomacy
|2018||Bjola, C., Pamment, J.||Book|
|Exploring the ‘dark side’ of digital diplomacy, this volume highlights some of the major problems facing democratic institutions in the West and provides concrete examples of best practice in reversing the tide of digital propaganda.|
Digital diplomacy is now part of the regular conduct of International Relations, but Information Warfare is characterised by the exploitation or weaponisation of media systems to undermine confidence in institutions: the resilience of open, democratic discourse is tested by techniques such as propaganda, disinformation, fake news, trolling and conspiracy theories. This book introduces a thematic framework by which to better understand the nature and scope of the threats that the weaponization of digital technologies increasingly pose to Western societies. The editors instigate interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration between scholars and practitioners on the purpose, methods and impact of strategic communication in the Digital Age and its diplomatic implications. What opportunities and challenges does strategic communication face in the digital context? What diplomatic implications need to be considered when governments employ strategies for countering disinformation and propaganda? Exploring such issues, the contributors demonstrate that responses to the weaponisation of digital technologies must be tailored to the political context that make it possible for digital propaganda to reach and influence vulnerable publics and audiences.