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.

Featured

Full Listing

TitleYearAuthorTypeLinks
The Incelosphere: Exposing pathways into incel communities and the harms they pose to women and children
2022 The Center for Countering Digital Hate Report
This new report, a product of the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s new Quant Lab, is a systematic study of over a million posts over the past eighteen months on the world’s leading incels forum. By stripping language down to mathematics, we can eke out trends that provide real insight into incel communities. Our Quant Lab researchers studied an active community with thousands of members, some more active than others, that attracts a wider audience who make millions of visits a month. Analysis of their discourse shows this core group poses a clear and present danger to women, other young men, and reveals an emerging threat to our children.
Entitlement, Victimhood, and Hate: A Digital Ethnography of the Canadian Right-Wing Social Media Landscape
2022 Mack, A.C. PhD Thesis
This dissertation is, at its core, an interrogation of white masculinity in Canada’s right-wing spaces. While my interlocutors spent a great deal of time discussing others, namely immigrants, globalist elites, and feminists, through their discourse, they revealed a lot more about themselves and their perceived victimhood (Berbrier, 2000). This victimhood is derived from what Hage (2000) refers to as the white nation fantasy, wherein white people believe they have the right to rule, control, and dominate in their countries. They are entitled to this by virtue of their whiteness and its perceived superiority, and thus feel justified in their harmful behaviour (Essed & Muhr, 2018). Yet, as I show throughout each chapter, that right is challenged time and time again by immigration, feminism, and racial justice, which triggers a sense of aggrieved entitlement (Manne, 2019) and backlash (Boyd, 2004; Braithwaite, 2004). Moreover, I demonstrate that this is not only a white fantasy, but rather a white male fantasy. While the white nation fantasy relies on white supremacy, the white male nation fantasy interweaves notions of male supremacism wherein not only are people of colour inferior, so too are women – including white ones who do not fall in line. I draw on bell hook’s conception of “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” to show how their discourse, while explicitly racist and nativist (Schrag, 2010), upholds and is in turn upheld by both capitalism and patriarchy. Thus, while chapters on hockey, promiscuous women, and a “Sad Keanu” meme may seem disparate and disjointed, they all connect back to these notions of supremacism, entitlement, and ultimately victimhood.
The Network Illusion: How a Network-Centric Special Operations Culture Impedes Strategic Effect
2022 McCab, P. (Ed.) Book
America has often developed very impressive methods of waging war and protecting strategic interests, but all too often, its senior leaders are too optimistic about how much those methods can actually accomplish. The heart of U.S. national security challenges today is an ongoing erosion of American influence globally. What the U.S. now requires is a modification of older ideas in ways appropriate for the modern age. The works contained in this edited volume are signposts of a future that America still has time to choose wherein its efforts to safeguard its people and protect its interests can be remade and reforged in ways appropriate and successful in this era of dazzling technologies and enormous global change.
The Impact of the Internet and Cyberspace on the Rise in Terrorist Attacks Across the US and Europe
2022 Rees, J. and Montasari, R. Chapter
This chapter critically analyses the impact of the Internet and associated technology on the rise in terrorist attacks across the US and Europe over the last two decades. To this end, the chapter will be focusing on jihadists’ use of the Internet, yet comparisons will also be made with the radical right. Although there exist certainly differences between the groups, there are also similarities between them, and, in turn, this chapter will address these movements as a collective. The jihadist terrorist organisations that will be analysed in this chapter will include Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The findings reveal that although the Internet has been linked to the preparation and execution of attacks, as this chapter will explore, it is difficult to establish direct cause and effect associations between the Internet and the rise in attacks in Europe and the US.
From Gaming to Hating: Extreme-Right Ideological Indoctrination and Mobilization for Violence of Children on Online Gaming Platforms
2022 Koehler, D., Fiebig, V. and Jugl, I. Article
As a consequence of numerous extreme-right terror attacks in which the perpetrators posted their manifestos and attack life streams on online platforms adjacent to the video gaming community, as well as radicalized within that environment to a significant degree (e.g., Christchurch, New Zealand; Halle, Germany), increasing scholarly and policymaker interest is focusing on far-right radicalization and recruitment within online video game environments. Yet little empirical insights exist about the specific engagement between right-wing extremists and their potential recruits on these platforms. This study presents findings from a qualitative exploration of German police-investigation files for two children who radicalized on gaming platforms to become involved in extreme-right criminal behavior, including the plotting of a terrorist attack. The study demonstrates the importance of online and offline factor interaction, especially regarding the role of familiar criminogenic factors, as well as the social–emotional bonding between potential recruits and extremist gamers created through shared gaming experiences that lead to high-intensity extremist radicalization aimed at offline behavioral changes. The study did not find evidence for strategic organizational far-right recruitment campaigns, but rather multidirectional social-networking processes which were also initiated by the potential recruits.
The Impact of the Internet and Cyberspace on the Rise in Terrorist Attacks Across the US and Europe
2022 Rees, J. and Montasari, R. Chapter
This chapter critically analyses the impact of the Internet and associated technology on the rise in terrorist attacks across the US and Europe over the last two decades. To this end, the chapter will be focusing on jihadists’ use of the Internet, yet comparisons will also be made with the radical right. Although there exist certainly differences between the groups, there are also similarities between them, and, in turn, this chapter will address these movements as a collective. The jihadist terrorist organisations that will be analysed in this chapter will include Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The findings reveal that although the Internet has been linked to the preparation and execution of attacks, as this chapter will explore, it is difficult to establish direct cause and effect associations between the Internet and the rise in attacks in Europe and the US.
Linking Terrorist Network Structure to Lethality: Algorithms and Analysis of Al Qaeda and ISIS
2022 Chen, Y., Gao, C., Gartenstein-Ross, D., Greene, K.T., Kalif, K., Kraus, S., Parisi, F., Pulice, C., Subasic, A. and Subrahmanian, V.S. Article
Without measures of the lethality of terrorist networks, it is very difficult to assess if capturing or killing a terrorist is effective. We present the predictive lethality analysis of terrorist organization () algorithm, which merges machine learning with techniques from graph theory and social network analysis to predict the number of attacks that a terrorist network will carry out based on a network structure alone. We show that is highly accurate on two novel datasets, which cover Al Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State (ISIS). Using both machine learning and statistical methods, we show that the most significant macrofeatures for predicting AQ’s lethality are related to their public communications (PCs) and logistical subnetworks, while the leadership and operational subnetworks are most impactful for predicting ISISs lethality. Across both groups, the average degree and the diameters of the strongly connected components (SCCs) within these networks are strongly linked with lethality.
Understanding the role of digital media in female participation in terrorism: the case of Bangladesh
2022 Parvez, S. and Hastings, J.V. Article
Notwithstanding the discernable participation of women in terrorist groups, empirical research on women in terrorism is very scant in Bangladesh. To fill this gap, our article examines women’s involvement in terrorism by analyzing the life stories of dozens of Bangladeshi women terrorists. We use a terrorist lifecycle approach to understand the role of digital media in female participation, particularly in terms of when in the lifecycle digital media becomes important, and in terms of how digital media interacts with other factors to shape women’s involvement in terrorist organizations. After analyzing female profiles and their socio-demographic traits, we provide an in-depth analysis of three female terrorist lifecycles. An analysis of the profiles of Bangladeshi terrorists who use digital media reveals that women were more likely to use digital media than men in the recruitment phase. The in-depth case studies of three female terrorist profiles find that multiple and different factors impact their terrorist life cycles. Social networks – families and friends – typically play a role in individuals’ decision to become involved and further engagement in terrorism. Specifically, digital media allows women to expand their social interactions beyond what is possible in person, thus allowing for virtual pathways into terrorism.
How does language influence the radicalisation process? A systematic review of research exploring online extremist communication and discussion
2022 Williams, T.J.V. and Tzani, C. Article
Contemporary research has highlighted the steady rise of individuals becoming radicalised via exposure to extremist discussion on the internet, with the ease of communication with other users that the internet provides playing a major role in the radicalisation process of these individuals. The aim of the present systematic review was to explore recent research into the utilisation of language in extremist cyberspaces and how it may influence the radicalisation process. The findings suggest that there are five prominent linguistical behaviours adopted by extremists online: Algorithmic, Conflict, Hate, Positive, and Recruitment. The results demonstrate that the main purpose of extremist language online is to shape the perceptions of users to see their associated group in positive regard, while simultaneously negatively framing outgroup opposition. This is then followed by encouraging conflict against the promoted ideologies’ perceived enemies. Limitations, future research, and implications are discussed in detail.
Rethinking Social Media and Extremism
2022 Leitch, S. and Pickering, P. (Eds) Book
Terrorism, global pandemics, climate change, wars and all the major threats of our age have been targets of online extremism. The same social media occupying the heartland of our social world leaves us vulnerable to cybercrime, electoral fraud and the ‘fake news’ fuelling the rise of far-right violence and hate speech. In the face of widespread calls for action, governments struggle to reform legal and regulatory frameworks designed for an analogue age. And what of our rights as citizens? As politicians and lawyers run to catch up to the future as it disappears over the horizon, who guarantees our right to free speech, to free and fair elections, to play video games, to surf the Net, to believe ‘fake news’?

Rethinking Social Media and Extremism offers a broad range of perspectives on violent extremism online and how to stop it. As one major crisis follows another and a global pandemic accelerates our turn to digital technologies, attending to the issues raised in this book becomes ever more urgent.
Two Sides of the Same Coin? A Largescale Comparative Analysis of Extreme Right and Jihadi Online Text(s)
2022 Mehran, W., Herron, S., Miller, B., Lemieux, A.F. and Conway, M. Article
This article describes and discusses a comparative semiotic analysis of online text collected from eight extreme right websites and four violent jihadi groups’ online magazines. The two datasets, which comprise just over 1 million words each, were analyzed using LIWC software. The core issues explored were the shared and different linguistic patterns used among extreme right and violent jihadi extremists and the emotional, cognitive, psychological, and social dimensions of the online textual discourses of each ideological grouping and what function these played in their overall political rhetoric. The findings bring to light some nuanced differences and similarities in the cognitive, social, psychological, and temporal dimensions of language used by each. For example, while both types of ideological text showed the same level of certainty in arguments as a cognitive process, the language depicting social and emotional processes, and religion were used more often by the violent jihadi extremists (VJEs) than the extreme right. The findings also point to the fact that VJEs were more likely than right-wing extremists to discuss the future and promise change as motivational incentives.
From Traits to Threats - Identification of Personality Traits for Individuals at Risk of Radicalisation on Social Media
2022 Underhaug, L.M. MA Thesis
This Thesis contributes by proposing a method for identifying users believed to be at risk of radicalisation on social media, by utilising the social media networks of already radicalised individuals and a set of indicators derived from related work on radicalisation. In addition, this Thesis provides a new to the field, in-depth analysis of the personality traits of Twitter users at risk of radicalisation and how they may differ from ordinary users. The results show that the proposed data collection and annotation scheme is able to successfully identify individuals at risk of radicalisation, yielding an inter-annotator agreement, measured by Cohen's Kappa, of 0.83. The analysis of the predicted personality traits shows that users at risk of radicalisation have common profiles for agreeableness and conscientiousness. When comparing the predicted traits to that of ordinary, non-radical Twitter users, the predictions show a marginal difference in distribution for agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness, indicating a certain difference in personality between the two domains.
Breaking the Building Blocks of Hate: A Case Study of Minecraft Servers
2022 Kowert, R., Botelho, A. and Newhouse, A. Report
The online game Minecraft, owned by Microsoft, has amassed 141 million active users since it was launched in 2011. It is used in school communities, among friend groups and even has been employed by the U.N. Despite its ubiquity as an online space, little has been reported on how hate and harassment manifest in Minecraft, as well as how it performs content moderation. To fill this research gap, Take This, ADL and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, in collaboration with GamerSafer, analyzed hate and harassment in Minecraft based on anonymized data from January 1st to March 30th, 2022 consensually provided from three private Minecraft servers (no other data was gathered from the servers except the anonymized chat and report logs used in this study). While this analysis is not representative of how all Minecraft spaces function, it is a crucial step in understanding how important online gaming spaces operate, the form that hate takes in these spaces, and whether content moderation can mitigate hate.
How online interaction radicalises while group involvement restrains: a case study of Action Zealandia from 2019 to 2021
2022 Halpin, J. and Wilson, C. Article
Scholars have long seen radicalisation as a predominantly group based phenomenon, occurring largely through ‘real world,’ in person interaction. By contrast, the internet is seen as playing only a limited ‘facilitating’ role in radicalising people to violence. However, a series of attacks by far right extremists over the past decade has demonstrated that this perspective is less accurate than it once was. Almost none of these terrorists were members of extremist groups and had only engaged with other extremists on the internet. In this article, we examine the relative importance of face-to-face group interaction and physically isolated internet-based radicalization in driving individuals towards extremist violence. We do so through a detailed case study of Action Zealandia, New Zealand’s leading ideological white nationalist group. The study is based on eighteen months of infiltration of the group by one of the authors from 2019 to 2021. When interacting online, members often adopt highly extremist personas, in some cases threatening mass violence. By contrast, face to face interaction and group membership pushed the group away from extremist violence. This was due to several factors: police pressure and a lack of opportunity for the movement to grow, and the often uninspiring nature of offline interaction.
From image to function Automated analysis of online jihadi videos
2022 García-Marín, J. and Luengo, Ó.G. Article
The strategy of jihadist groups is based on objectives that are sometimes global. Specifically, many of these groups argue that Muslims, wherever they live, should fight for the establishment of an Islamic state or, at least, for such a state to be possible elsewhere. Therefore, taking advantage of the emergence of the Internet, they initiated an equally universal narrative strategy, with the production of a great deal of content, especially audiovisual texts. The effects of this material are known and, unfortunately, may be behind the terrorist actions of various individuals in many countries. Hence the concern of academics lies with their analyses and with the development of methodologies that can successfully deal with large amounts of multimodal information. The present research, therefore, aims to apply a quantitative procedure to the analysis of jihadist propaganda. Specifically, the authors have analysed 2,211 videos belonging to different terrorist groups, by applying an image classification algorithm. The results show that this type of approach has realistic possibilities of providing relevant information about this corpus – when realized, they may help to create automated analytical tools capable of dealing with the enormous amount of information that can be disseminated on-line.
A semi-supervised algorithm for detecting extremism propaganda diffusion on social media
2022 Francisco, M., Benítez-Castro, M.Á., Hidalgo-Tenorio, E. and Castro, J.L. Article
Extremist online networks reportedly tend to use Twitter and other Social Networking Sites (SNS) in order to issue propaganda and recruitment statements. Traditional machine learning models may encounter problems when used in such a context, due to the peculiarities of microblogging sites and the manner in which these networks interact (both between themselves and with other networks). Moreover, state-of-the-art approaches have focused on non-transparent techniques that cannot be audited; so, despite the fact that they are top performing techniques, it is impossible to check if the models are actually fair. In this paper, we present a semi-supervised methodology that uses our Discriminatory Expressions algorithm for feature selection to detect expressions that are biased towards extremist content (Francisco and Castro 2020). With the help of human experts, the relevant expressions are filtered and used to retrieve further extremist content in order to iteratively provide a set of relevant and accurate expressions. These discriminatory expressions have been proved to produce less complex models that are easier to comprehend, and thus improve model transparency. In the following, we present close to 70 expressions that were discovered by using this method alongside the validation test of the algorithm in several different contexts.
Birds of a Feather: A Comparative Analysis of White Supremacist and Violent Male Supremacist Discourses
2022 Pruden, M.L., Lokmanoglu, A.D., Peterscheck, A. and Veilleux-Lepage, Y. Chapter
This chapter explores the intersection of white and male supremacy, both of which misrepresent women as genetically and intellectually inferior and reduce them to reproductive and/or sexual functions. The white power movement historically has been characterized by sexism and misogyny, as evidenced by the movement’s attempts to retain European heritage and maintain whiteness by policing the behavior and controlling the bodies of white women. However, the influence of white supremacist discourses on physically violent manifestations of the male supremacist movement remains largely understudied. Using supervised machine learning, we compare a corpus of violent male supremacist manifestos and other multimodal content with highly influential white nationalist texts and the manifestos of violent white supremacists to identify the shared beliefs, tropes and justifications for violence deployed within.
Conversations with other (alt-right) women: How do alt-right female influencers narrate a far-right identity?
2022 Maria-Elena, K., Yannick, V.L. and Vanessa, N. Article
In the process of shifting far-right ideas from the fringes to the centre of the political spectrum, the alt-right has infiltrated online spaces to mainstream extremist ideas. As part of this process, female alt-right influencers have emerged within various popular social media platforms and fringe outlets, seeking to build credibility for the movement with new audiences. Contrary to previous assumptions about women as harmless adherents of far-right ideology, alt-right women are emerging as “organic intellectuals”, influential in the formation of everyday beliefs and principles in congruence with the tenets of far-right ideology. Their narratives strategically weave far-right ideological discourses, such as the imminent crisis of white identity, with topical matters on lifestyle and well-being. This article examines the rhetoric of online influencers as they shape an ideological space which is contributing to the normalization or mainstreaming of far-right ideas. In doing so, it addresses two questions: How do alt-right female influencers narrate a far-right identity? How do they mainstream white supremacist ideas online? Drawing on new empirical material from a series of far-right podcasts, this article demonstrates that alt-right women strategically construct a “liberated” female identity rooted in femininity, traditionalism and gender complementarity, and problematize feminism and women’s emancipation as constitutive of the crisis facing the white race. It further identifies the presence of an elaborate cultural narrative around white victimhood which alt-right influencers use to mainstream their ideology. To counter the perpetuation of far-right ideas in society, women’s participation in shaping far-right ideology should not remain unaddressed. This article sheds some light on how a small but highly visible group of influencers are actively working to promote a dangerous far-right ideology.
Kyle Rittenhouse and the Shared Meme Networks of the Armed American Far-Right: An Analysis of the Content Creation Formula, right-wing Injection of Politics, and Normalization of Violence
2022 Stall, H., Foran, D. and Prasad, H. Article
This paper analyzes the meaning of iconography that constitute memes by reviewing a collection of memes propagated on social media related to the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting of protestors in Wisconsin. The authors collected 355 images from 37,774 tweets, supplemented by images found in Facebook groups, militia forums, and right-wing meme repositories related to Kyle Rittenhouse. The paper leads with an introduction to the American “alt-right” movement and the Rittenhouse shootings. The paper’s methodology deconstructs each meme into a set of constituent parts. This provides a process for classifying memes based on their templates, “aesthetic,” branding, events, iconography, and seemingly ambiguous references. This allows researchers to better attribute memes to specific socio-political and cultural groups, analyze the intent of the messaging, and situate memes in the broader knowledge base that, over time, solidifies into its own entity with its own kind of social and political agency.
An actor-based approach to understanding radical right viral tweets in the UK
2022 Sprejer, L., Margetts, H., Oliveira, K., O’Sullivan, D.J. and Vidgen, B. Article
Radical right actors routinely use social media to spread highly divisive, disruptive, and anti-democratic messages. Assessing and countering such content is crucial for ensuring that online spaces can be open, accessible, and constructive. However, previous work has paid little attention to understanding factors associated with radical right content that goes viral. We investigate this issue with a new dataset (the ‘ROT' dataset) which provides insight into the content, engagement, and followership of a set of 35 radical right actors who are active in the UK. ROT contains over 50,000 original entries and over 40 million retweets, quotes, replies and mentions, as well as detailed information about followership. We use a multilevel model to assess engagement with tweets and show the importance of both actor- and content-level factors, including the number of followers each actor has, the toxicity of their content, the presence of media and explicit requests for retweets. We argue that it is crucial to account for role of actors in radical right viral tweets, and therefore, moderation efforts should be taken not only on a post-to-post level but also on an account level.