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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Paris and Nice terrorist attacks: Exploring Twitter and web archives
Researching far right groups on Twitter: Methodological challenges 2.0
Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism A Case Study of the Redirect Method
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.|
Media and Mass Atrocity: The Rwanda Genocide and Beyond
|2019||Thompson, E., Dallaire, R. (foreword)||Book|
|It will have been 25 years since the Rwanda genocide in spring 2019. As more information about the Rwanda genocide becomes available and as the narrative of those events continues to evolve, there is still much to learn from the case study of Rwanda about the role of media in stimulating and responding to mass atrocities. In an era of social media saturation, near-ubiquitous mobile device penetration and dramatic shifts in traditional news media, it is more important than ever to examine the nexus between media and mass atrocity. Advances in information and communications technology have reshaped the media landscape, rendering mass atrocities in distant countries more immediate and harder to ignore. And yet, a cohesive international response to mass atrocities has been elusive. Social media tools can be used to inform and engage, but — in an echo of hate radio in Rwanda — can also be used to demonize opponents and mobilize extremism. With enhanced and relatively inexpensive communications technologies, ordinary citizens around the globe can capture live footage of human rights abuses before journalists have the chance, making social media itself a global actor, affecting the responses of national governments and international organizations to threats against peace and security and human rights. And yet, despite the extended reach that technological advances have afforded traditional news media and social media, the media impact in mass atrocity events is still a complex subject. Specifically, we are left with many troubling questions, still unresolved despite the passage of time since Rwanda. What role do media play in alerting the international community to looming mass atrocity? Could more informed and comprehensive coverage of mass atrocities mitigate or even halt the killing by sparking an international outcry? How do we assess the impact of hate media reporting in a killing spree? What is the role of the media in trying to encourage amelioration of the conflict or post-conflict reconciliation? What do the lessons of Rwanda mean now, in an age of communications so dramatically influenced by social media? Media and Mass Atrocity: The Rwanda Genocide and Beyond grapples with these questions.|
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.
Social Media A Source Of Radicalization And A Window Of Opportunity - Lessons From Israel - Michael Wolfowicz
Paris and Nice terrorist attacks: Exploring Twitter and web archives
|2019||Schafer, V., Truc, G., Badouard, R., Castex, L. and Musiani, F.||Article|
|The attacks suffered by France in January and November 2015, and then in the course of 2016, especially the Nice attack, provoked intense online activity both during the events and in the months that followed. The digital traces left by this reactivity and reactions to events gave rise, from the very first days and even hours after the attacks, to a ‘real-time’ institutional archiving by the National Library of France (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, BnF) and the National Audiovisual Institute (Institut national de l’audiovisuel, Ina). The results amount to millions of archived tweets and URLs. This article seeks to highlight some of the most significant issues raised by these relatively unprecedented corpora, from collection to exploitation, from online stream of data to its mediation and re-composition. Indeed, web archiving practices in times of emergency and crises are significant, almost emblematic, loci to explore the human and technical agencies, and the complex temporalities, of ‘born-digital’ heritage. The cases examined here emphasize the way these ‘emergency collections’ challenge the perimeters and the very nature of web archives as part of our digital and societal heritage, and the guiding visions of its governance and mission.|
"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.
The Digital Battlefield: A Network Analysis of the Online Activities of the Modern Militia Movement
|2018||DeLeeuw, J. G.||MA Thesis|
|The goal of this dissertation is to develop a better understanding of how militias use the internet to connect with other militias, their members, and the public. The modern militia movement in the United States experienced a resurgence of late following a rapid decline in the early 2000s. Along with the drop in membership, the interest levels of researchers and law enforcement began to fade and as a result, a significant gap formed in the literature as it relates to our understanding of the groups’ activities.|
I address this gap by examining the online activities of the modern militia movement at three levels. Specifically, I examine how militias throughout the United States connect with each other through their official websites, how militias operating at different geographic levels connect with other websites, and how a regional militia uses Facebook to communicate with its members and the public. The three components of this dissertation reveal that the modern militia movement has experienced important changes in its online activity since 2013. Component I examines the breakdown in the nationwide network of militia websites that occurred between 2014 and 2017. Component II reveals the ways the networks surrounding three militia groups changed from 2013 to 2017 and the important role ideology plays in the connections between websites. Component III examines the ways one militia utilized Facebook during an eleven month period, including which content posted by the group had the highest likelihood of generating participation from visitors and the interactions that occurred in the most active discussions among visitors.
Understanding how militias connect with each other and with individuals is an important step towards understanding the modern movement, its goals, and activities. A deeper understanding of these groups and their activities will provide a foundation for future research and assist law enforcement developing response strategies.
Understanding Violent Extremism: Messaging and Recruitment Strategies on Social Media in the Philippines
|Violent extremist activity on social media in the Philippines is a relatively new phenomenon in the complex conflict environment that exists in the southern part of the country. The rise of online violent extremism emerged despite the Philippines’ significant strides in the Mindanao peace process. The 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the MILF was a landmark achievement. Yet a number of armed groups rejected the deal, many of which are now engaged in online extremism. The apparent affiliation of these groups with issues beyond Mindanao and the Philippine state signaled a potential new era of conflict in the country. With these concerns as a backdrop, The Asia Foundation and Rappler worked together to explore how young Filipinos interact with social media networks, and look into the prevalence and characteristics of violent extremist messaging and recruitment in the Philippines in 2018.|
The Power Of A Good Story
|2018||Frischlich, L., Rieger, D., Morten, A. and Bente, G.||Article|
|The perceived threat of extremist online propaganda has generated a need for countermeasures applicable to large audiences. The dissemination of videos designed to counter violent extremism (CVE videos) is widely discussed. These videos are often described as “counter-narratives,” implying that narrativity is a crucial factor for their effectiveness. Experimental research testing this assumption is rare and direct comparisons of narrativity effects between propaganda and CVE videos are lacking. To fill this gap, we conducted two experiments (one in a laboratory and one online) in which we confronted German participants with different religious affiliations and from various cultural backgrounds (NStudy 1 = 338 and NStudy 2 = 155) with Islamist extremist or right-wing extremist propaganda videos and with corresponding CVE videos. The results confirmed that narrativity (a) increases persuasive processing of propaganda and CVE videos, (b) fosters amplification intentions regarding these videos, and (c) increases attraction to extremists versus counter-activists. Thus, our studies highlight the crucial role of narrativity in both extremist propaganda and video-based CVE approaches.|
Structuring of the Terrorism Problem in the Digital Age: A Systems Perspective
|2018||Odhiambi Achieng, N., Ochara Muganda, N., Kadymatimba, A.||Report|
|Terrorism is a global challenge of the 21 st century. The Kenya Westgate Mall attack and Garrissa University attacks in 2015 and the Libya suicide bombings, did not only claim the lives of many, but also had great political consequences. The advancements, ease of access and availability of information and communication technologies (ICT) is blamed for the increases in terrorist attacks: for instance, the Internet and especially, social media. This is because through the Internet, terrorist organizations such as ISIS have come up with innovative ways to recruit new members, to train and even disseminate ideologies. However, the terrorist opponents (counter-terrorism organizations) also have developed innovative counter-measures using ICT. Therefore, understanding and structuring terrorism in this digital age has enhanced the complexity in addition to multiple stakeholders involved in terrorism related incidences, intertwined causal-relationships, and the uncertainties in the mode of operandi of the terrorists. In this study, theory of synergetics is applied both as a theoretical and methodological approach to try structure the terrorism problem. Secondary data sources such as journal articles on terrorism related incidences and search terms (i.e. terrorism AND technology, terrorism AND Internet), were used by the researchers' to identify and include relevant documents in the study. Following the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the researchers remained with only 405 documents from which using the qualitative software Nvivo, a word cloud was developed to pictorially visualize the terrorism problem. Thereafter, relying on synergetics and using results from the word cloud, the researchers' were able to create a conceptual model. The findings from the analysis of the conceptual model showed that technology plays a critical role in the fight against terrorism as it appears to be part of each of the various components of synergetics, namely, order parameters, system elements, internal and external constraints, control parameters and environment.|
Digital Jihad, Propaganda from the Islamic State
|2018||Cohen, K., Kaati, L.||Report|
|The purpose of this report is to raise awareness of how the so-called Islamic State (IS) uses digital propaganda to reach followers in the West. Although IS has suffered significant territorial losses, the digital battle is far from over. The big social media platforms are now effective in removing propaganda, but despite this, IS is always finding new ways of producing and spreading its messages. IS ability to adapt to an ever-changing digital landscape is likely to keep the organization alive by enabling communication between supporters worldwide. This report provides an introduction to IS propaganda from different perspectives: the specific language used by IS, the brand IS, the magazines produced by IS and women's role in IS.|
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.|
From Minutes to Months A rapid evidence assessment of the impact of media and social media during and after terror events.
|2018||Innes, M., Innes, H., Dobreva, D., Chermak, S., Huey, S., McGovern, A.||Report|
|This document reports findings from a Rapid Evidence Assessment conducted on the role of mass and social media during and after terrorist events. It is designed to bring|
together and synthesize insights and evidence from the available published research literature to inform future policy and practice development. By promoting understanding of
how different forms of mediated communication shape what happens in the aftermath of terror events, the work seeks to reflect changes in both the conduct of terrorism and the
contemporary information environment. In particular, the spread of social media has had disruptive and transformative impacts upon press and broadcast journalism, and the ways
that terrorist violence is performed.