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.

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TitleYearAuthorTypeLinks
Organised and Ambient Digital Racism: Multidirectional Flows in the Irish Digital Sphere
2019Siapera, E.Article
This article is concerned with the distinction between acceptable race talk in social media and organised, extreme or ‘frozen’ racism which is considered hate speech and removed. While in the literature this distinction is used to point to different variants, styles and mutations of racism, in social media platforms and in European regulatory frameworks it becomes policy. The empirical part of the article considers this distinction drawing upon a series of posts following a stabbing incident in a small Irish town, which organised Twitter accounts sought to connect to terrorism. The empirical analysis examines the tweets of those accounts and the comments left on the Facebook page and website of one of the main Irish online news outlets. The analysis shows few if any differences between the two, concluding that there is a blending of supremacist and everyday, ambient racist discourses. This blending indicates the operation of a transnational contagion, given the shared vocabularies and discourses. It further problematises the distinction between ‘illegal hate speech’ and ‘acceptable race talk’, and throws into question the principle underlying both the policies of social media as well as the European efforts to de-toxify the digital public sphere.
Public–Private Collaboration to Counter the Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes: What Can be Learnt from Efforts on Terrorist Financing?
2019Keen, F.Article
Notwithstanding inherent differences between the counterterrorist financing regime and the regulatory regime governing communication service providers, there are clear benefits in taking lessons learnt from longstanding efforts on terrorist financing into account when developing a response to the online terrorist threat.

Policy Recommendations



  • Lawmakers developing a regulatory regime for communication service providers (CSPs) should engage with their counterparts involved in the response to terrorist financing to understand potential unintended consequences of this regime, including counterproductive incentives, risk displacement and other factors identified in this paper.

  • Regulations should be developed with input from the CSP sector, to avoid counterproductive measures such as over-reporting, a tick-box approach to compliance, and discrimination against smaller entities that may have fewer resources to commit to regulatory compliance.

  • As a complement to regulations, policymakers and CSPs should identify all areas in which public–private collaboration could strengthen the response to the terrorist use of online communication services (including but not limited to the removal of terrorist content).

  • The various areas for collaboration should be articulated in a comprehensive strategy clarifying their role relative to overarching counterterrorism objectives and distinguishing between different threat actors.

  • When developing and implementing collaborative models (including existing partnerships), public and private partners should consider the following factors: (1) legal and practical gateways for sharing information; (2) flexible membership; (3) transparency and accountability; (4) voluntary nature; (5) clear relationship with regulatory framework.

  • Information sharing should initially focus on the sharing of common and emerging trends, best practices and redacted case studies, as opposed to sharing operational information. This will allow members from multiple jurisdictions to participate while ensuring that legal barriers to information sharing are not breached.

Immigrant, Nationalist And Proud A Twitter Analysis Of Indian Diaspora Supporters For Brexit And Trump
2019Leidig, E. C.Article
The Brexit referendum to leave the EU and Trump’s success in the US general election in 2016 sparked new waves of discussion on nativism, nationalism, and the far right. Within these analyses, however, very little attention has been devoted towards exploring the transnational ideological circulation of Islamophobia and anti-establishment sentiment, especially amongst diaspora and migrant networks. This article thus explores the role of the Indian diaspora as mediators in populist radical right discourse in the West. During the Brexit referendum and Trump’s election and presidency, a number of Indian diaspora voices took to Twitter to express pro-Brexit and pro-Trump views. This article presents a year-long qualitative study of these users. It highlights how these diasporic Indians interact and engage on Twitter in order to signal belonging on multiple levels: as individuals, as an imaginary collective non-Muslim diaspora, and as members of (populist radical right) Twitter society. By analysing these users’ social media performativity, we obtain insight into how social media spaces may help construct ethnic and (trans)national identities according to boundaries of inclusion/exclusion. This article demonstrates how some Indian diaspora individuals are embedded into exclusivist national political agendas of the populist radical right in Western societies.
Flashback as a Rhetorical Online Battleground: Debating the (Dis)guise of the Nordic Resistance Movement
2019Blomberg, H.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.
Making Sense of Jihadi Stratcom: The Case of the Islamic State
2019Winter, C.Article
This article explores why jihadis make propaganda. Through the analytical lens of Bockstette’s 2008 framework for jihadi communication strategies, it assesses two of the Islamic State’s most important doctrinal texts on media jihad—the first, a little-known speech by Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir that was published posthumously in 2010, and the second, a field-guide prepared by the Islamic State’s official publishing house, the Himmah Library, in 2015. After drawing out the core insights, similarities and presuppositions of each text, it discusses the enduring salience of Bockstette’s model on the one hand and these two texts on the other, noting that, while it is imprudent to make policy predictions based on them alone, so too would it be remiss to ignore the strategic insights they contain.
Online Radicalization Of White Women To Organized White Supremacy
2019Badalich, S.MA Thesis
Since its early mainstream adoption in the 1990s, the Internet has been leveraged by white supremacist groups to recruit and radicalize individuals. Twenty years later, social media platforms, like YouTube, reddit, and Twitter, continue to further this practice. The attention of researchers has been primarily centered on white supremacist men, and this focus on white men erases white women’s roles as active agents in the spread of white supremacy, skewing our understanding of white supremacy as a whole. This study used digital ethnography and interviews to examine the ways white women are radicalized to organized white supremacy through popular social media platforms YouTube, reddit, and Twitter. The study found white women were radicalized by engaging with posts and joining communities focusing on beauty, anti-feminism or “The Red Pill,” traditionalist gender values or #TradLives, and alt-right politics. White supremacist recruiters leveraged gendered topics and weaponized platform features – likes, sharing, comments, recommendation algorithms, etc. – to cultivate a sense of community. Through involvement with these communities, women were introduced to racialized perspectives on each topic, usually after a catalytic pop culture or newsworthy event, and slowly radicalized to organized white supremacy.
From Directorate of Intelligence to Directorate of Everything: The Islamic State’s Emergent Amni-Media Nexus
2019Almohammad, A. and Winter, C.Article
This article, which is based on original interview data gathered from eastern Syria between January and October 2018, examines the emergent dominance of the Islamic State’s Directorate of General Security (DGS). We track how this institution, which is currently operating through a network of diwan-specific security offices grouped under the Unified Security Center (USC), has come to oversee and manage an increasingly wide array of the group’s insurgent activities—including intelligence and military operations and religious and managerial affairs. Focusing in particular on its role in the context of media production—which comprises anything from facilitation and security to monitoring, distribution and evaluation—we illustrate the critical importance of this most elusive directorate, positing that, in its current form, it could stand to facilitate the survival of the Islamic State for months—if not years—to come.
The Alt-Right and Global Information Warfare
2019Bevensee, E. and Reid Ross, A.Article
The Alt-Right is a neo-fascist white supremacist movement that is involved in violent extremism and shows signs of engagement in extensive disinformation campaigns. Using social media data mining, this study develops a deeper understanding of such targeted disinformation campaigns and the ways they spread. It also adds to the available literature on the endogenous and exogenous influences within the US far right, as well as motivating factors that drive disinformation campaigns, such as geopolitical strategy. This study is to be taken as a preliminary analysis to indicate future methods and follow-on research that will help develop an integrated approach to understanding the strategies and associations of the modern fascist movement.
Visual Jihad: Constructing the “Good Muslim” in Online Jihadist Magazines
2019MacDonald, S. and Lorenzo-Dus, NuriaArticle
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
2019Chaudhry, 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
2019Pieslak, 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
2019Thompson, 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
2019Blomberg, 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
2019Wolfowicz, MPresentation
Paris and Nice terrorist attacks: Exploring Twitter and web archives
2019Schafer, 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.
Beyond The "Big Three" - Alternative Platforms For Online Hate Speech
2019European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020)Report
In recent years, most international studies on hate speech online have focused on the three platforms
traditionally considered the most influential: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. However, their predominance as the biggest international social networks is no longer uncontested. Other networks are on the rise and young users especially lose interest in the ‘old’ platforms. In April 2019, Instagram had more active accounts globally than Twitter and came fifth in terms of global page impressions, after Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. Additionally, recent studies into the social media use of minors and young adults showed that Instagram is more important than Facebook to users younger
than 30 in several countries. Since hate groups and extremists move their propaganda to the channels
where they can reach their target audience most easily, it is important to take those changes in the
social media landscape into consideration. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are all parties to the Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online, established by the European Commission in 20164, agreeing to take stronger and swifter action against hate speech on their platforms. Google+ has also joined the Code of Conduct in 2018. However, as the network was shut down in April 2019, it is no longer included in this analysis. As hate speech moderation increases on the major social media platforms, hate groups and extremists turn to other networks where community guidelines against hate speech are less strictly enforced. Some of those alternative platforms, like VK.com or Gab.ai, have acquired a broad international audience and are considered ‘safe havens’ by far-right or right-wing extremist activists. Other platforms have a more local audience or are only relevant in specific countries. This analysis offers an overview of the most prevalent social media platforms and websites used for disseminating hate speech in the countries of the sCAN project partners. Six partner organisations provided input and contributed with their extensive experience in the field of combatting hate speech online:
 ZARA – Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit (Austria)
 Romea (the Czech Republic)
 Licra - International League Against Racism and Antisemitism (France)
 jugendschutz.net (Germany)
 CESIE (Italy)
 University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences (UL-FDV) (Slovenia)
A Large-Scale Study Of ISIS Social Media Strategy - Community Size, Collective Influence, And Behavioral Impact
2019Alfifi, M., Kaghazgaran, P. and Caverlee, J.Article
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has received a tremendous amount of media coverage in the past few years for their successful use of social media to spread their message and to recruit new members. In this work, we leverage access to the full Twitter Firehose to perform a large-scale observational study of one year of ISIS social activity. We quantify the size of ISIS presence on Twitter, the potential amount of support it received, and its collective influence over time. We find that ISIS was able to gain a relatively limited portion from the total influence mass on Twitter and that this influence diminished over time. In addition, ISIS showed a tendency towards attracting interactions from
other similar pro-ISIS accounts, while inviting only a limited anti-ISIS sentiment. We find that 75% of the interactions ISIS received on Twitter in 2015 actually came from eventually suspended accounts and that only about 8% of the interactions they received were anti-ISIS. In addition, we have created a unique dataset of 17 million ISIS-related tweets posted in 2015 which we make available for research purposes upon request.
"The Lions Of Tomorrow" A News Value Analysis Of Child Images In Jihadi Magazines
2018Watkin, 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
2018Crosset, V., Tanner, S. and Campana, AArticle
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
2018Ganesh, B.Article
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.