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

Exploring Radical Right-Wing Posting Behaviors Online
2020 Scrivens, R. Article
In recent years, researchers have shown a vested interest in developing advanced information technologies, machine-learning algorithms, and risk-assessment tools to detect and analyze radical content online, with increased attention on identifying violent extremists or measuring digital pathways of violent radicalization. Yet overlooked in this evolving space has been a systematic examination of what constitutes radical posting behaviors in general. This study uses a sentiment analysis-based algorithm that adapts criminal career measures – and is guided by communication research on social influence – to develop and describe three radical posting behaviors (high-intensity, high-frequency, and high-duration) found on a sub-forum of the most conspicuous right-wing extremist forum. The results highlight the multi-dimensional nature of radical right-wing posting behaviors, many of which may inform future risk factor frameworks used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify credible threats online.
Towards the “olive trees of Rome”: exploitation of propaganda devices in the Islamic State’s flagship magazine “Rumiyah”
2020 Lakomy, M. Article
This paper aims to contribute to understanding how the last flagship magazine of the Islamic State - “Rumiyah” - attempted to influence and manipulate Internet users. Its primary objective is to analyze the propaganda methods exploited in all thirteen issues of this magazine. In order to do so this paper utilises content analysis to investigate “propaganda devices”, a concept developed by the American Institute for Propaganda Analysis. It argues that there were four predominant groups of propaganda devices exploited in this magazine. Two of them, i.e. name-calling and glittering generalities, were utilized to create and promote an artificial, black-and-white vision of the world, composed of the “camp of kufr” (camp of disbelief) and the “camp of iman” (camp of faith), embodied by the Islamic State. The third leading propaganda method, transfer, attempted to legitimize the actions and agenda of the “Caliphate” by using the authority of not only Allah, but also the Prophet Muhammad, his companions (Sahabah), as well as selectively chosen Islamic scholars. Finally, the bandwagon served as a means of creating a sense of community between the editors and readers. Other propaganda devices, such as testimonial or plain folks, played strictly secondary roles in the narration of the magazine.
What is BitChute? Characterizing the “Free Speech” Alternative to YouTube
2020 Trujillo, M., Gruppi, M., Buntain, C. and Horne, B.D. Article
In this paper, we characterize the content and discourse on BitChute, a social video-hosting platform. Launched in 2017 as an alternative to YouTube, BitChute joins an ecosystem of alternative, low content moderation platforms, including Gab, Voat, Minds, and 4chan. Uniquely, BitChute is the first of these alternative platforms to focus on video content and is growing in popularity. Our analysis reveals several key characteristics of the platform. We find that only a handful of channels receive any engagement, and almost all of those channels contain conspiracies or hate speech. This high rate of hate speech on the platform as a whole, much of which is anti-Semitic, is particularly concerning. Our results suggest that BitChute has a higher rate of hate speech than Gab but less than 4chan. Lastly, we find that while some BitChute content producers have been banned from other platforms, many maintain profiles on mainstream social media platforms, particularly YouTube. This paper contributes a first look at the content and discourse on BitChute and provides a building block for future research on low content moderation platforms.
The Shift from Consumers to Prosumers: Susceptibility of Young Adults to Radicalization
2020 Sugihartati, R., Suyanto, B. and Sirry, M. Article
This article examines the radicalization of young adults in relation to internet access and the social media content produced and managed by radical groups in Indonesia. Some of the research problems that become the major concern of this article were how young people respond to the internet and social media that provide radical content, how they find out about and access the content, what their purposes are for accessing radical content, and what they do with the radical content. The data discussed in this article were obtained from surveys and interviews with 700 students from seven state universities in Indonesia who were allegedly exposed to radicalism, according to the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT). The state universities that became research locations were the University of Indonesia (UI), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Bogor Agriculture University (IPB), Diponegoro University (Undip), the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS), Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), and the University of Brawijaya (UB). This study revealed that in addition to accessing and consuming various radical content, some students also acted as prosumers. That is, they did not only read, but also produced information related to radicalization, and then recirculated it via social media.
Posterboys und Terrorpropaganda
2020 Bötticher, A Chapter
Mit dem Begriff Cybergrooming wird normalerweise die gezielte Ansprache von meist minderjährigen Personen im Internet zum Zweck der Anbahnung sexueller Kontakte bezeichnet. Die Terrorgruppe ISIS hat eine sehr spezielle Form der Propaganda in Kombination mit persönlicher Ansprache junger Frauen und Mädchen entwickelt, die in Kriegs- und Krisengebiete zwecks Verheiratung gelockt werden sollen. So hat ISIS die Kombination aus terroristischer Propaganda und gezielter Ansprache von jungen Frauen und Mädchen perfektioniert und eine eigene Grooming-Systematik entwickelt, die bei propagandaempfänglichen Mädchen den Wunsch nach einer Djihad-Ehe auslöst. Sind die jungen Frauen oder Mädchen erst ausgereist, werden oft ihre Netzwerke aufgegriffen und die „Daheimgebliebenen“ von ihr zur Ausreise aufgefordert. Das vorliegende Kapitel entwickelt aus dem Begriff des Cybergrooming eine theoriegeleitete Form der Beobachtung extremistischen Handelns im Netz und wendet ihn auf den islamistischen Extremismus an, mit Schwerpunkt auf der Rekrutierung von Frauen und Mädchen.
Wie Cyberterrorismus stattfindet - und warum wir ihn nicht sehen
2020 Enghofer, S., Müller, D. and Parrino, A. Chapter
Verschwörungstheorien von im Untergrund herrschenden „Echsenmenschen“ oder einer „flachen Erde“ mögen in den Augen eines aufgeklärten Menschen abwegig und bizarr erscheinen, doch tatsächlich erfahren diese Narrative dank dem Internet erhöhte Beachtung. Schon lange sind Ufos, die „false-flag-Anschläge“ von 9/11 und die gefälschte Mondlandung Teil eines virtuellen Erklärungsangebots an Menschen, die grundsätzliches Misstrauen gegenüber traditionellen Medien oder dem „Mainstream-Glauben“ hegen. Während diese Devianz in der bisherigen Form keine oder kaum Auswirkungen auf gesellschaftliche Prozesse hatte, ist ab 2016 eine Zeitenwende erkennbar. Verschiedene Indizien geben Anlass zur Sorge, denn obwohl sog. „alternative Fakten“ – Falschmeldungen, Fake-News und Desinformationen – keine gänzlich neuen politischen Phänomene darstellen, erhöht sich deren virulente Wirkung durch das Internet. Dabei sticht insbesondere ein Vorfall hervor, der als Präzedenzfall einer Wirklichkeitsmanipulation mit weitreichender Implikation gelten kann: #Pizzagate.
To Train Terrorists Onsite or Motivate via the Internet…That is the Question
2020 Siqueira, K. and Arce, D. Article
This paper investigates an agency model of a terrorist organization in which the training and motivation of recruits can occur onsite, in physical training camps, or at arm's length through the Internet. In so doing, we develop measures of the effectiveness and efficacy of these recruit training methods. A dividing line for choosing between the two is characterized in terms of the degree to which onsite training augments an operative's probability of mission success. In comparing our results to data on terror-tactic lethality, one implication is that terrorist organizations are likely to consider Internet training as sufficient for any tactic that is less complex and less lethal than vehicular assaults, and will require onsite motivation and training for more complex missions such as multiple-operative mass shootings and suicide bombings.
Onlife Extremism: Dynamic Integration of Digital and Physical Spaces in Radicalization
2020 Valentini, D., Lorusso, A.M. and Stephan, A. Article
This article argues that one should consider online and offline radicalization in an integrated way. Occasionally, the design of some counter-measure initiatives treats the internet and the “real” world as two separate and independent realms. New information communication technologies (ICTs) allow extremists to fuse digital and physical settings. As a result, our research contends that radicalization takes place in onlife spaces: hybrid environments that incorporate elements from individuals’ online and offline experiences. This study substantiates this claim, and it examines how algorithms structure information on social media by tracking users’ online and offline activities. Then, it analyzes how the Islamic State promoted onlife radicalization. We focus on how the Islamic State used Telegram, specific media techniques, and videos to connect the Web to the territories it controlled in Syria. Ultimately, the article contributes to the recalibration of the current debate on the relationship between online and offline radicalization on a theoretical level and suggests, on a practical level, potential counter measures.
Do Platforms Kill?
2020 Lavi, M. Article
This Article analyzes intermediaries’ civil liability for terror attacks under the anti-terror statutes and other doctrines in tort law. It aims to contribute to the literature in several ways. First, it outlines the way intermediaries aid terrorist activities either willingly or unwittingly. By identifying the role online intermediaries play in terrorist activities, one may lay down the first step towards creating a legal policy that would mitigate the harm caused by terrorists’ incitement over the internet. Second, this Article outlines a minimum standard of civil liability that should be imposed on intermediaries for speech made by terrorists on their platforms. Third, it highlights the contradictions between intermediaries’ policies regarding harmful content and the technologies that create personalized experiences for users, which can sometimes recommend unlawful content and connections.
Social Media in Mali and its Relation to Violent Extremism: A Youth Perspective
2020 Vermeersch, E., Coleman, J., Demuynck, M. and Dal Santo, E. Report
The influence of social media on the spread of violent extremist narratives and online radicalisation processes has recently become a focal point for research in the fields of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism; however, most of the studies thus far have focused on Western countries and have often been aimed at analysing phenomena such as homegrown and lone wolf terrorism or the online radicalisation of foreign terrorist fighters. Far less evidence-based research has explored the influence of social media on terrorism in Africa and even less regarding Mali in particular. In this report, ICCT and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) seek to fill this gap through an analysis of survey data from youth participants in their joint on-the-ground project in Mali—“Mali (Dis-) Engagement and Re-Integration related to Terrorism” (MERIT)—to determine the implications of social media use for violent extremism in Mali.
Redefining ‘Propaganda’: The Media Strategy of the Islamic State
2020 WInter, C. Article
In this article, Charlie Winter challenges the way in which the word ‘propaganda’ is used in contemporary discourse around war and terrorism. He considers the case of the Islamic State, using it to demonstrate that the term – as it is conventionally understood – is an inadequate tool when it comes to describing the full range of tactical and strategic approaches to communication that are employed by insurgents today. If anything, he contends, ‘propaganda’ refers to an entire information ecosystem in which different media are geared towards different tasks.
The Ecology of Extremists’ Communications: Messaging Effectiveness, Social Environments and Individual Attributes
2020 Hamid, N. Article
Many prevention and countering of violent extremism experts place too much emphasis on the radicalising power of online mass distributed messaging by violent extremist groups. Instead, Nafees Hamid argues that radicalisation takes place in a social ecology within which the messaging of terrorist groups plays only a small role. This article shows that people are resistant to mass persuasion and that certain environments are more conducive to the spread of extremist messaging. Small-group dynamics are useful to explain the spread of ideas and that altering these dynamics can provide a buffer against some ideas while enabling others.
Countering Extremists on Social Media: Challenges for Strategic Communication and Content Moderation
2020 Ganesh, B. and Bright, J. Article
Extremist exploitation of social media platforms is an important regulatory question for civil society, government, and the private sector. Extremists exploit social media for a range of reasons—from spreading hateful narratives and propaganda to financing, recruitment, and sharing operational information. Policy responses to this question fit under two headings, strategic communication and content moderation. At the center of both of these policy responses is a calculation about how best to limit audience exposure to extremist narratives and maintain the marginality of extremist views, while being conscious of rights to free expression and the appropriateness of restrictions on speech. This special issue on “Countering Extremists on Social Media: Challenges for Strategic Communication and Content Moderation” focuses on one form of strategic communication, countering violent extremism. In this editorial we discuss the background and effectiveness of this approach, and introduce five articles which develop multiple strands of research into responses and solutions to extremist exploitation of social media. We conclude by suggesting an agenda for future research on how multistakeholder initiatives to challenge extremist exploitation of social media are conceived, designed, and implemented, and the challenges these initiatives need to surmount.
Misleading Memes: The Effects of Deceptive Visuals of the British National Party
2020 Klein, O. Article
This study investigates how visual manipulation is employed on the Facebook page of a far-right party; and whether manipulation evokes different forms of engagement from Facebook users. The study takes as a case the Facebook page of the British National Party (BNP), which has recently been censored from the social media platform. It therefore provides a rare insight in the visual practices of the party's online political communication. A manual coding of 342 images into factual, funny, fallacious or fabricated content finds that completely fabricated information in images is rare. However, most images do contain information that is presented in a fallacious or misleading manner. The results show how deliberate manipulated images evoke more engagement in the form of comments and more negative emotional responses than images that present information in a factual or funny manner.
There and Back Again: How White Nationalist Ephemera Travels Between Online and Offline Spaces
2020 Berger, J.M., Aryaeinejad, K. and Looney, S. Article
This article represents an initial exploration of the content and posting strategies of the current wave of racist flyer drops in the US, focusing specifically on a dataset of all documented flyers posted in 2018. The dataset was generated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and augmented by the authors. The dataset is unique among open sources and includes a large number of incidents which were not reported in the media. The article consists of three parts. The first documents and briefly discusses the groups engaged in racist flyer development and drops. The second describes and characterises the text and image content of the flyers. The final section uses open sources and leaked material to describe the process by which flyer drops are instigated, planned and documented.
Accelerators, Amplifiers, and Conductors: A Model of Tertiary Deviance in Online White Supremacist Networks
2020 Gottschalk, S. Article
As recent perpetrators of racially-motivated mass-shootings were visitors and contributors to online white supremacist networks, this article presents a preliminary model that attempts to understand the social psychological effects of interacting in these networks. Combining Jonathan Turner’s theory of the social psychological roots of extreme violence, scholarship on the white supremacist movement, and research on computer-mediated communication, it suggests that interactions in online white supremacist networks accelerate the conversion from secondary to tertiary deviance, amplify the negative emotional energy released by this conversion, and, under certain conditions, transform this energy into a violent kinetic force. The model is not unique to online white supremacist networks and will hopefully guide research in other types of networks as well.
The Legal Response Of Western Democracies To Online Terrorism And Extremism
2020 Ramati, N. VOX-Pol Publication
Extremists and terrorists have found the online sphere, and specifically its social networks, to be an efficient tool for advancing their methods and political needs. The legal responses to the resulting threats from this online activity vary from country to country. The immense importance of the Internet in the everyday life of billions of people worldwide has raised difficult questions regarding the attempt to regulate online activity, especially in relation to the right of privacy and freedom of speech. This report examines how western democracies balance, from a legal point of view, the need to protect their populations from terrorist attacks and their duty to preserve the democratic rights of privacy and free speech.
Online Deceptions: Renegotiating Gender Boundaries on ISIS Telegram
2020 Criezis, M. Article
This resarch note examines the ways in which Islamic State supporters on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, renegotiate gender boundaries. The introduction positions receptions of female ISIS accounts in the online space within the context of the roles that women are expected to fill and ISIS’s tentative acceptance of women fighting on the battlefield. An overview of Telegram gender social norms is provided before discussing the methodology used to gather supporting archival data to analyze the renegotiation of gender boundaries on Telegram. This section is followed by an analysis of a case study that considers the wider implications of what this says about women’s agency and involvement in terrorist groups online. The conclusion addresses the policy implications of possible shifts in gender social norms and the shape that women’s engagement in violent jihadist groups might take in the future.
The Virus of Hate: Far-Right Terrorism in Cyberspace
2020 Weimann, G. and Masri, N. Report
Founded in 1996, the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) is one of the leading academic institutes for counter-terrorism in the world, facilitating international cooperation in the global struggle against terrorism. ICT is an independent think tank providing expertise in terrorism, counter-terrorism, homeland security, threat vulnerability and risk assessment, intelligence analysis and national security and defense policy. ICT is a non-profit organization located at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel which relies exclusively on private donations and revenue from events, projects and program.
Counterterrorism Yearbook 2020
2020 Kfir, I. and Coyne, J. (Eds.) Report
This year’s Counterterrorism Yearbook draws upon 19 contributing authors, each a renowned thought leader in their field, to promote practical counterterrorism solutions by reviewing a global range of terrorism developments and counterterrorism responses. ASIO’s Director General, Mike Burgess commends the publication for its ‘valuable contribution to the public discourse on counterterrorism’. While maintaining its geographic focus, the Yearbook now includes thematic chapters on mental health, strategic policing, the media, the terror–crime nexus and terrorist innovation. These new thematic chapters have been included to encourage governments to consider more proactive CT agendas that move beyond the current focus on disrupting plots and discouraging people from joining and supporting terrorist groups. The focus here has been on promoting new thinking on how to deal with emergent areas of concern, such as comorbidity of mental health, use of gaming platforms, and artificial intelligence.