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 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.


Full Listing

The Cloud Caliphate: Archiving the Islamic State in Real-Time
2021 Ayad, M., Amarasingam, A. and Alexander, A. Report
This joint report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point offers a preliminary survey and analysis of one of the largest known online repositories of Islamic State materials in order to increase understanding of how violent extremist groups and their supporters manage, preserve, and protect information relevant to their cause. Seemingly managed by sympathizers of the Islamic State, the large cache of digital files, here nicknamed the “Cloud Caliphate,” provides researchers, policymakers, and counterterrorism practitioners additional insights into how and why groups and their adherents maintain archives of such material.
The core analysis breaks into seven different parts. After reviewing the likely origins of the repository, the first section describes its composition, and the second discusses evidence concerning cyber support from other online actors. Sections three through six explore specific folders within the archive, which pertain to matters concerning the Islamic State’s organizational predecessors and a range of notable leaders, ideologues, and scholars. Section seven of the report highlights a real-world case involving the use of the “Cloud Caliphate” archive by an Islamic State supporter. The report concludes with a reflective discussion that notes potential policy considerations for those tasked with confronting the Islamic State’s exploitation of information and communications technologies.
US Extremism on Telegram: Fueling Disinformation, Conspiracy Theories, and Accelerationism
2021 Walther, S. and McCoy, A. Article
Several alternative social media platforms have emerged in response to perceptions that mainstream platforms are censoring traditional conservative ideologies. However, many of these alternative social media platforms have evolved to be outlets for hate speech and violent extremism. This study examines hate-based channels on Telegram from a US perspective. While Telegram has often been studied in relation to ISIS, less is known about its usage by US extremist users and movements. The authors used OSINT and observational methods on a sample of 125 Telegram channels containing hate speech and violent extremist content from far-right and far-left perspectives. The authors hypothesized that there would be a greater and growing presence of far-right activity compared to farleft activity due to current migration trends away from mainstream social media by the far-right. The authors also sought to observe the presence of disinformation campaigns, conspiracy theories, and accelerationism on Telegram. This study had four major findings: (1) the findings supported the hypothesis that more channels were host to farright dialogues, yet there were several far-left channels present, (2) 64.8% of the channels grew in size over a oneweek period, (3) 47 of the 125 channels were connected to well-known violent extremist movements or hate groups, and (4) QAnon and the COVID-19 pandemic were the most prominent sources of disinformation and conspiracy theories on Telegram. The findings of this study highlight that alternative social media platforms are a growing environment for a range of hateful ideologies and are aiding the spread of disinformation campaigns. This study concludes with a discussion on future strategies to combat the influence of the Internet on radicalization outcomes.
GAFAM and Hate Content Moderation: Deplatforming and Deleting the Alt-right
2021 Mirrlees, T. Article
Purpose – This chapter demonstrates the power that Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (or the “GAFAM”) exercise over platforms within society, highlights the alt-right’s use of GAFAM sites and services as a platform for hate, and examines GAFAM’s establishment and use of hate content moderation apparatuses to de-platform alt-right users and delete hate content. Approach – Drawing upon a political economy of communications approach, this chapter demonstrates GAFAM’s power in society. It also undertakes a reading of GAFAM “terms of service agreements” and “community guidelines” documents to identify GAFAM hate content moderation apparatuses. Findings – GAFAM are among the most powerful platforms in the world, and their content moderation apparatuses are empowered by the US government’s cyber-libertarian approach to Internet law and regulation. GAFAM are defining hate speech, deciding what’s to be done about it, and censoring it. Value – This chapter probes GAFAM’s hate content moderation apparatuses for Internet platforms, and shows how GAFAM enable and constrain the alt-right’s hate speech on their platforms. It also reflexively assesses the politics of empowering GAFAM to de-platform the alt-right.
Mapping Global Cyberterror Networks: An Empirical Study of Al-Qaeda and ISIS Cyberterrorism Events
2021 Lee, C.S., Choi, K.S., Shandler, R. and Kayser, C., Article
This study explores the internal dynamics and networks of terrorist groups in cyberspace—in particular, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Using a “Global Cyberterrorism Dataset” that features data on cyberterror attacks between 2011 and 2016, this research analyzes these two terrorist groups through the lens of a cyber-conflict theory that integrates conflict theory with Jaishankar’s space transition theory. Through a network analysis methodology, we examine the invisible relationships and connections between the national origins and target countries of cyberterror attacks. The analysis focuses on the networks of national origins of terrorists and victims, network structures of Al-Qaeda and ISIS actors, and clustering networks of Al-Qaeda and ISIS cyberterrorists. Results indicate that terror in cyberspace is ubiquitous, more flexible than traditional terrorism, and that cyberattacks mostly occurred within the countries of origin. We conclude by discussing the complex features of cyberterror networks and identify some of the geostrategic implications of the divergent cyber strategies adopted by Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Layers of Lies: A First Look at Irish Far-Right Activity on Telegram
2021 Gallagher, A. and O’Connor, C. Report
This report aims to provide a first look into Irish far-right activity on the messaging app, Telegram, where the movement is operating both as identifiable groups and influencers, and anonymously-run channels and groups.

The report looks at the activity across 34 such Telegram channels through the lens of a series of case studies where content posted on these channels resulted in real life consequences. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the report examines the tactics, language and trends within these channels, providing much-needed detail on the activity of the Irish far-right online.
From Bombs to Books, and Back Again? Mapping Strategies of Right-Wing Revolutionary Resistance
2021 Ravndal, J.A. Article
This article begins by outlining four post-WWII strategies of right-wing revolutionary resistance: vanguardism; the cell system; leaderless resistance; and metapolitics. Next, the article argues that metapolitics became a preferred strategy for many right-wing revolutionaries during the 2000s and early 2010s, and proposes three conditions that may help explain this metapolitical turn: limited opportunities for armed resistance; a subcultural style shift; and new opportunities for promoting alternative worldviews online. Finally, the article theorizes about the types of threats that may emerge in the wake of this metapolitical turn, and speculates about the likelihood of a new and more violent turn in the near future.
The Domestic Extremist Next Door: How Digital Platforms Enable the War Against American Government
2021 Digital Citizens Alliance Report
Digital platforms enabled the disturbing rise of domestic extremism, culminating with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Militia groups use social media networks to plan operations, recruit new members, and spread anti-democracy propaganda, a new Digital Citizens Alliance (Digital Citizens) and Coalition for a Safer Web (CSW) investigation has found.
Detecting Markers of Radicalisation in Social Media Posts: Insights From Modified Delphi Technique and Literature Review
2021 Neo, L.S. Article
This study involved the creation of factors and indicators that can detect radicalization in social media posts. A concurrent approach of an expert knowledge acquisition process (modified Delphi technique) and literature review was utilized. Seven Singapore subject-matter experts in the field of terrorism evaluated factors that were collated from six terrorism risk assessment tools (ERG 22+, IVP, TRAP-18, MLG, VERA-2, and Cyber-VERA). They identify those that are of most considerable relevance for detecting radicalization in social media posts. A parallel literature review on online radicalization was conducted to complement the findings from the expert panel. In doing so, 12 factors and their 42 observable indicators were derived. These factors and indicators have the potential to guide the development of cyber-focused screening tools to detect radicalization in social media posts.
New Models for Deploying Counterspeech: Measuring Behavioral Change and Sentiment Analysis
2021 Saltman, E., Kooti, F. and Vockery, K. Article
The counterterrorism and CVE community has long questioned the effectiveness of counterspeech in countering extremism online. While most evaluation of counterspeech rely on limited reach and engagement metrics, this paper explores two models to better measure behavioral change and sentiment analysis. Conducted via partnerships between Facebook and counter-extremism NGOs, the first model uses A/B testing to analyze the effects of counterspeech exposure on low-prevalence-high-risk audiences engaging with Islamist extremist terrorist content. The second model builds upon online safety intervention approaches and the Redirect Method through a search based “get-help” module, redirecting white-supremacy and Neo-Nazi related search-terms to disengagement NGOs.
Mobilizing extremism online: comparing Australian and Canadian right-wing extremist groups on Facebook
2021 Hutchinson, J., Amarasingam, A., Scrivens, R. and Ballsun-Stanton, B. Article
Right-wing extremist groups harness popular social media platforms to accrue and mobilize followers. In recent years, researchers have examined the various themes and narratives espoused by extremist groups in the United States and Europe, and how these themes and narratives are employed to mobilize their followings on social media. Little, however, is comparatively known about how such efforts unfold within and between right-wing extremist groups in Australia and Canada. In this study, we conducted a cross-national comparative analysis of over eight years of online content found on 59 Australian and Canadian right-wing group pages on Facebook. Here we assessed the level of active and passive user engagement with posts and identified certain themes and narratives that generated the most user engagement. Overall, a number of ideological and behavioral commonalities and differences emerged in regard to patterns of active and passive user engagement, and the character of three prevailing themes: methods of violence, and references to national and racial identities. The results highlight the influence of both the national and transnational context in negotiating which themes and narratives resonate with Australian and Canadian right-wing online communities, and the multi-dimensional nature of right-wing user engagement and social mobilization on social media.
New Models for Deploying Counterspeech: Measuring Behavioral Change and Sentiment Analysis
2021 Saltman, E., Kooti, F. and Vockery, K. Article
The counterterrorism and CVE community has long questioned the effectiveness of counterspeech in countering extremism online. While most evaluation of counterspeech rely on limited reach and engagement metrics, this paper explores two models to better measure behavioral change and sentiment analysis. Conducted via partnerships between Facebook and counter-extremism NGOs, the first model uses A/B testing to analyze the effects of counterspeech exposure on low-prevalence-high-risk audiences engaging with Islamist extremist terrorist content. The second model builds upon online safety intervention approaches and the Redirect Method
through a search based “get-help” module, redirecting whitesupremacy and Neo-Nazi related search-terms to disengagement NGOs.
The Case of Jihadology and the Securitization of Academia
2021 Zelin, A.Y. Article
This paper goes to the heart of this special issue by exploring the case of the web site, Jihadology, which the author founded and has managed for the past ten-plus years. It explores various issues including why such a site is necessary and/or useful, questions about dissemination and open access, lessons learned about responsibility and interaction with jihadis online, the evolution of the website that has the largest repository of jihadi content, interactions with governments and technology companies and how they viewed and dealt with the website. The paper also explores how the experience gained might help other researchers interested in creating primary source-first websites to assist in their research as well as to the benefit of others in the field. Therefore, this paper aims to shed light not only on this unique case, but also on the moral and ethical questions that have arisen through maintaining the Jihadology website for more than a decade in a time of changing online environments and more recent calls for censorship.
Online Extremism and Terrorism Research Ethics: Researcher Safety, Informed Consent, and the Need for Tailored Guidelines
2021 Conway, M. Article
This article reflects on two core issues of human subjects’ research ethics and how they play out for online extremism and terrorism researchers. Medical research ethics, on which social science research ethics are based, centers the protection of research subjects, but what of the protection of researchers? Greater attention to researcher safety, including online security and privacy and mental and emotional wellbeing, is called for herein. Researching hostile or dangerous communities does not, on the other hand, exempt us from our responsibilities to protect our research subjects, which is generally ensured via informed consent. This is complicated in data-intensive research settings, especially with the former type of communities, however. Also grappled with in this article therefore are the pros and cons of waived consent and deception and the allied issue of prevention of harm to subjects in online extremism and terrorism research. The best path forward it is argued—besides talking through the diversity of ethical issues arising in online extremism and terrorism research and committing our thinking and decision-making around them to paper to a much greater extent than we have done to-date—may be development of ethics guidelines tailored to our sub-field.
Online Extremism Detection: A Systematic Literature Review With Emphasis on Datasets, Classification Techniques, Validation Methods, and Tools
2021 Gaikwad, M., Ahirrao, S., Phansalkar, S. and Kotecha, K. Article
Social media platforms are popular for expressing personal views, emotions and beliefs. Social media platforms are influential for propagating extremist ideologies for group-building, fund-raising, and recruitment. To monitor and control the outreach of extremists on social media, detection of extremism in social media is necessary. The existing extremism detection literature on social media is limited by specific ideology, subjective validation methods, and binary or tertiary classification. A comprehensive and comparative survey of datasets, classification techniques, validation methods with online extremism detection tool is essential. The systematic literature review methodology (PRISMA) was used. Sixty-four studies on extremism research were collected, including 31 from SCOPUS, Web of Science (WoS), ACM, IEEE, and 33 thesis, technical and analytical reports using Snowballing technique. The survey highlights the role of social media in propagating online radicalization and the need for extremism detection on social media platforms. The review concludes lack of publicly available, class-balanced, and unbiased datasets for better detection and classification of social-media extremism. Lack of validation techniques to evaluate correctness and quality of custom data sets without human interventions, was found. The information retrieval unveiled that contemporary research work is prejudiced towards ISIS ideology. We investigated that deep learning based automated extremism detection techniques outperform other techniques. The review opens the research opportunities for developing an online, publicly available automated tool for extremism data collection and detection. The survey results in conceptualization of architecture for construction of multi-ideology extremism text dataset with robust data validation techniques for multiclass classification of extremism text.
Online Hate and Zeitgeist of Fear: A Five-Country Longitudinal Analysis of Hate Exposure and Fear of Terrorism After the Paris Terrorist Attacks in 2015
2021 Kaakinen, M., Oksanen, A., Gadarian, S.K., Solheim, Ø.B., Herreros, F., Winsvold, M.S., Enjolras, B. and Steen‐Johnsen, K. Article
Acts of terror lead to both a rise of an extended sense of fear that goes beyond the physical location of the attacks and to increased expressions of online hate. In this longitudinal study, we analyzed dynamics between the exposure to online hate and the fear of terrorism after the Paris attacks in November 13, 2015. We hypothesized that exposure to online hate is connected to a perceived Zeitgeist of fear (i.e., collective fear). In turn, the perceived Zeitgeist of fear is related to higher personal fear of terrorism both immediately after the attacks and a year later. Hypotheses were tested using path modeling and panel data (N = 2325) from Norway, Finland, Spain, France, and the United States a few weeks after the Paris attacks in November 2015 and again a year later in January 2017. With the exception of Norway, exposure to online hate had a positive association with the perceived Zeitgeist of fear in all our samples. The Zeitgeist of fear was correlated with higher personal fear of terrorism immediately after the attacks and one year later. We conclude that online hate content can contribute to the extended sense of fear after the terrorist attacks by skewing perceptions of social climate.
Echo Chambers on Social Media: A Systematic Review of the Literature
2021 Terren, L., and Borge Bravo, R. Article
The increasing pervasiveness of social media has been matched by growing concerns regarding their potential impact on democracy and public debate. While some theorists have claimed that ICTs and social media would bring about a new independent public sphere and increase exposure to political divergence, others have warned that they would lead to polarization, through the formation of echo chambers. The issue of social media echo chambers is both crucial and widely debated. This article attempts to provide a comprehensive account of the scientific literature on this issue, highlighting the different approaches, their similarities, differences, benefits and drawbacks, and offering a consolidated and critical perspective that can hopefully support future research in this area. Concretely, it presents the results of a systematic review of 55 studies investigating the existence of echo chambers on social media, identifying patterns across their foci, methods and findings, and shedding light on the contradictory nature of the literature. We found that the results of research on this issue seem largely influenced by methodological and data collection choices. Indeed, articles that found clear evidence of echo chambers on social media were all based on digital trace data, while those that found no evidence were all based on self-reported data. Future studies should take into account the potential biases of the different approaches and the significant potential of combining self-reported data with digital trace data.
PROTOCOL: What are the effects of different elements of media on radicalization outcomes? A systematic review
2021 Wolfowicz, M., Hasisi, B. and Weisburd, D. Article
Objectives: In this systematic review and meta analysis we will collate and synthesize the evidence on media‐effects for radicalization, focusing on both cognitive
and behavioral outcomes. The goal is to identify the relative magnitudes of the effects for different mediums, types of content, and elements of human‐media
Methodology: Random‐effects meta analysis will be used and the results will be rank‐ordered according to the size of the pooled estimates for the different factors.
Meta‐regressions, moderator analysis, and sub‐group analyses will be used to investigate sources of heterogeneity.
Implications: The results of this review will provide a better understanding of the relative magnitude of the effects of media‐related factors. This information should
help the development of more evidence‐based policies.
Fake news: the effects of social media disinformation on domestic terrorism
2021 Piazza, J.A. Article
This study tests whether social media disinformation contributes to domestic terrorism within countries. I theorize that disinformation disseminated by political actors online through social media heightens political polarization within countries and that this, in turn, produces an environment where domestic terrorism is more likely to occur. I test this theory using data from more than 150 countries for the period 2000–2017. I find that propagation of disinformation through social media drives domestic terrorism. Using mediation tests I also verify that disinformation disseminated through social media increases domestic terrorism by, among other processes, enhancing political polarization within society.
Comparing the Online Posting Behaviors of Violent and Non-Violent Right-Wing Extremists
2021 Scrivens, R., Wojciechowski, T.W., Freilich, J.D., Chermak, S.M. and Frank, R. Article
Despite the ongoing need for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to identify and assess the online activities of violent extremists prior to their engagement in violence offline, little is empirically known about their online behaviors generally or differences in their posting behaviors compared to non-violent extremists who share similar ideological beliefs particularly. In this study, we drew from a unique sample of violent and non-violent right-wing extremists to compare their posting behaviors within a sub-forum of the largest white supremacy web-forum. Analyses for the current study proceeded in three phases. First, we plotted the average posting trajectory for users in the sample, followed by an assessment of the rates at which they stayed active or went dormant in the sub-forum. We then used logistic regression to examine whether specific posting behaviors were characteristic of users’ violence status. The results highlight a number of noteworthy differences in the posting behaviors of violent and non-violent right-wing extremists, many of which may inform future risk factor frameworks used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify credible threats online. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of this analysis, its limitations and avenues for future research.
Toward an Ethical Framework for Countering Extremist Propaganda Online
2021 Henschke, A. Article
In recent years, extremists have increasingly turned to online spaces to distribute propaganda and as a recruitment tool. While there is a clear need for governments and social media companies to respond to these efforts, such responses also bring with them a set of ethical challenges. This paper provides an ethical analysis of key policy responses to online extremist propaganda. It identifies the ethical challenges faced by policy responses and details the ethical foundations on which such policies can potentially be justified in a modern liberal democracy. We also offer an ethical framework in which policy responses to online extremism in liberal democracies can be grounded, setting clear parameters upon which future policies can be built in a fast-changing online environment.