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
Jihadist online communication and Finland
2019 Malkki, L. and Pohjonen, M. Article
This study focuses on jihadist online communication in 2014–2018 from the perspective of Finland. In particular, it examines and analyses the visibility of Finland and persons connected to Finland in jihadist online communication and investigates the types of content persons who are or were living in Finland have produced and disseminated content on different online platforms and channels. The report focuses on jihadist material that was openly available online during this period. It also contains a section describing the development of jihadist online communication more generally, thus helping to put observations in a broader international context. Up till the early 2010s, Finland was conspicuous by its almost total absence from jihadist content. This situation changed in the early stages of the conflict in Syria, at which time jihadist online communication became more prolific in Western countries. Around the same time, Finland also became visible in international jihadist discussions for the first time. During the early years of the conflict, the volume of jihadist online communication related to Finland was higher than ever before. This volume should not be exaggerated, however, as the quantity of online communication linked to Finland remained relatively small by international comparison. Finland has been mentioned and persons coming from Finland have appeared a number of times in ISIS publications and videos. Persons originating from Finland have mainly featured in stories and videos intended for the Western public in a wider sense. In ISIS publications, Finland is also cited as one on the long list of the organisation’s enemies and a heathen country where orthodox Muslims are not understood. References to Finland in jihadist groups’ publications have been few and far between, and they do not add up to a clear picture of Finland as an important target. It is likely that ISIS has used persons from Finland in jihadist publications and videos mainly to target its communication at broader Western audiences. Numerous persons originating from other Western countries also appear in similar stories and videos. These stories and videos offer a new point of comparison, however, which may make
identification with jihadist activity seem more natural also in Finland. At this stage, the actual impact this has ultimately had on the development of jihadism in Finland should be considered as an open question.
In addition to established jihadist groups, jihadist online content has also been produced independently by their supporters. Many of those who have travelled to Syria and Iraq from Finland have been active on the social media. In addition to everyday messages typical of social media discussions, this activity has included  reporting on local conditions, responding to questions, and also encouraging others to go to Syria or Iraq. The communication has also contained some threats against Finland and, for example, against Shia Muslims. While the preferred channels for these activities appear to have been Facebook and Twitter, such content was also
found on other discussion platforms. Persons who are and were living in Finland have disseminated and, in some cases, also produced jihadist content in the Finnish language. The majority of the content available and distributed outside the social media, including on websites and in blogs or online discussion forums, has been translated from other languages. The volume of Finnish content has been quite modest, and as far as we can conclude, it is unlikely to have attracted a large number of readers.
The volume of open jihadist online communication has dropped significantly in the last three years, as technology companies have started actively deleting content inciting or advocating violence. Apart from a few exceptions, the content discussed in this
study is no longer available online. The golden days of open jihadist online communication are now mostly over, and this also applies to content related to Finland or provided in Finnish. While online content related to Finland has almost completely disappeared from public platforms, this does not mean that it no longer exists elsewhere. As disseminating such content publicly has become more difficult,
jihadist online communication has moved to closed and encrypted channels. The study found signs indicating that jihadist content related to Finland has been shared and interaction associated with it has also occurred, and may occur still, on these
closed and encrypted channels. The impact of jihadist online communication on Finland is not limited to content
directly linked to Finland, and content in which “Finland is mentioned” in some way is not always automatically the most significant for Finland. Online communication is produced in countless other languages, and it is frequently also consumed in languages other than the audience’s native language. Rather than living in the same country, the producers and consumers of jihadist online communication typically are part of the complex online milieu of international movements. Interpersonal relationships, even highly significant ones, may be established through online communication. This possibility may facilitate attachment to jihadist activity, especially for people for whom it is difficult to find persons with a similar ideological predisposition close by. At the same time it should be noted that, according to research findings, face-to-face interaction still almost always plays a significant role in recruitment to jihadist activism.
Modeling Islamist Extremist Communications on Social Media using Contextual Dimensions: Religion, Ideology, and Hate
2019 Kursuncu, U., Gaur, M., Castillo, C., Alambo, A. Thirunarayan, K., Shalin, V., Achilov, D., Budak Arpinar, I. and Sheth, A. Article
Terror attacks have been linked in part to online extremist content. Although tens of thousands of Islamist extremism supporters consume such content, they are a small fraction relative to peaceful Muslims. The efforts to contain the ever-evolving extremism on social media platforms have remained inadequate and mostly ineffective. Divergent extremist and mainstream contexts challenge machine interpretation, with a particular threat to the precision of classification algorithms. Our context-aware computational approach to the analysis of extremist content on Twitter breaks down this persuasion process into building blocks that acknowledge inherent ambiguity and sparsity that likely challenge both manual and automated classification. We model this process using a combination of three contextual dimensions -- religion, ideology, and hate -- each elucidating a degree of radicalization and highlighting independent features to render them computationally accessible. We utilize domain-specific knowledge resources for each of these contextual dimensions such as Qur'an for religion, the books of extremist ideologues and preachers for political ideology and a social media hate speech corpus for hate. Our study makes three contributions to reliable analysis: (i) Development of a computational approach rooted in the contextual dimensions of religion, ideology, and hate that reflects strategies employed by online Islamist extremist groups, (ii) An in-depth analysis of relevant tweet datasets with respect to these dimensions to exclude likely mislabeled users, and (iii) A framework for understanding online radicalization as a process to assist counter-programming. Given the potentially significant social impact, we evaluate the performance of our algorithms to minimize mislabeling, where our approach outperforms a competitive baseline by 10.2% in precision.
Online Terrorist Propaganda, Recruitment, and Radicalization
2019 Vacca, J. R. Book
Online Terrorist Propaganda, Recruitment, and Radicalization is most complete treatment of the rapidly growing phenomenon of how terrorists' online presence is utilized for terrorism funding, communication, and recruitment purposes. The book offers an in-depth coverage of the history and development of online "footprints" to target new converts, broaden their messaging, and increase their influence. Chapters present the emergence of various groups; the advancement of terrorist groups' online presences; their utilization of video, chat room, and social media; and the current capability for propaganda, training, and recruitment.

With contributions from leading experts in the field-including practitioners and terrorism researchers-the coverage moves from general factors to specific groups practices as relate to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and numerous other groups. Chapters also examine the lone wolf phenomenon as a part of the disturbing trend of self-radicalization. A functional, real-world approach is used regarding the classification of the means and methods by which an online presence is often utilized to promote and support acts of terrorism.

Online Terrorist Propaganda, Recruitment, and Radicalization examines practical solutions in identifying the threat posed by terrorist propaganda and U.S. government efforts to counter it, with a particular focus on ISIS, the Dark Web, national and international measures to identify, thwart, and prosecute terrorist activities online. As such, it will be an invaluable resources for intelligence professionals, terrorism and counterterrorism professionals, those researching terrorism funding, and policy makers looking to restrict the spread of terrorism propaganda online.
From “Incel” To “Saint” - Analyzing The Violent Worldview Behind The 2018 Toronto Attack
2019 Baele, S. J., Brace, L. & Coan, T. G. Journal
This paper combines qualitative and quantitative content analysis to map and analyze the “Incel” worldview shared by members of a misogynistic online community ideologically linked to several recent acts of politically motivated violence, including Alek Minassian’s van attack in Toronto (2018) and Elliot Rodger’s school shooting in Isla Vista (2014). Specifically, the paper analyses how support and motivation for violence results from the particular structure this worldview presents in terms of social categories and causal narratives.
Social Media and Terrorist Financing: What are the Vulnerabilities and How Could Public and Private Sectors Collaborate Better?
2019 Keatinge, T. and Keen, F. Article
Social media companies should recognise the political importance of counterterrorist financing (CTF) by explicitly reflecting the priorities of the UN Security Council and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in their policies, strategies and transparency reports.
• Furthermore, social media companies identified as being at high risk of exploitation should update their terms of service and community standards to explicitly reference and outlaw terrorist financing (consistent with universally applicable international law and standards such as those of the FATF) and actions that contravene related UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions.
• Social media companies should clearly demonstrate that they understand and apply appropriate sanctions designations; at the same time, policymakers should ensure that sanctions designations include, where possible, information such as email addresses, IP addresses and social media handles that can support sanctions implementation by social media companies. The more granular the information provided by governments on designated entities, the more efficiently the private sector can comply with sanctions designations.
• Social media companies should more tightly control functionality to ensure that raising terrorist funding through social media videos, such as big-brand advertising and Super Chat payments, is disabled.
• Researchers and policymakers should avoid generalisations and make a clear distinction between forms of social media and the various terrorist-financing vulnerabilities that they pose, recognising the different types of platforms available, and the varied ways in which terrorist financiers could abuse them.
• Policymakers should encourage both inter-agency and cross-border collaboration on the threat of using social media for terrorist financing, ensuring that agencies involved are equipped with necessary social media investigative capabilities.
• International law enforcement agencies such as Interpol and Europol should facilitate the development of new investigation and prosecution standard operating procedures for engaging with operators of servers and cloud services based in overseas jurisdictions to ensure that necessary evidence can be gathered in a timely fashion. This would also encourage an internationally harmonised approach to using social media as financial intelligence.
• Policymakers should encourage the building of new, and leveraging of existing, public–private partnerships to ensure social media company CTF efforts are informed and effective.
The Conflict In Jammu And Kashmir And The Convergence Of Technology And Terrorism
2019 Taneja, K. and Shah, K. M. Article
This paper provides recommendations for what government and social media companies can do in the context of Jammu and Kashmir’s developing online theatre of both potential radicalisation and recruitment
Hidden Resilience And Adaptive Dynamics Of The
2019 Johnson, N. F., Leahy, R., Johnson Restrepo, N., Velasquez, N., Zheng, M., Manrique, P., Devkota, P. and Wuchty, S. Article
Online hate and extremist narratives have been linked to abhorrent real-world events, including a current surge in hate crimes1–6 and an alarming increase in youth suicides that result from social media vitriol⁷; inciting mass shootings such as the 2019 attack in Christchurch, stabbings and bombings8–11; recruitment of extremists12–16, including entrapment and sex-trafficking of girls as fighter brides¹⁷; threats against public figures, including the 2019 verbal attack against an anti-Brexit politician, and hybrid (racist–anti-women–anti-immigrant) hate threats against a US member of the British royal family¹⁸; and renewed anti-western hate in the 2019 post-ISIS landscape associated with support for Osama Bin Laden’s son and Al Qaeda. Social media platforms seem to be losing the battle against online hate19,20 and urgently need new insights. Here we show that the key to understanding the resilience of online hate lies in its global network-of-network dynamics. Interconnected hate clusters form global ‘hate highways’ that—assisted by collective online adaptations—cross social media platforms, sometimes using ‘back doors’ even after being banned, as well as jumping between countries, continents and languages. Our mathematical model predicts that policing within a single platform (such as Facebook) can make matters worse, and will eventually generate global ‘dark pools’ in which online hate will flourish. We observe the current hate network rapidly rewiring and self-repairing at the micro level when attacked, in a way that mimics the formation of covalent bonds in chemistry. This understanding enables us to propose a policy matrix that can help to defeat online hate, classified by the preferred (or legally allowed) granularity of the intervention and top-down versus bottom-up nature. We provide quantitative assessments for the effects of each intervention. This policy matrix also offers a tool for tackling a broader class of illicit online behaviours21,22 such as financial fraud.
Defining Online Hate And Its Public Lives- What Is The Place For Extreme Speech?
2019 GAGLIARDONE, I. Article
Following Sahana Udupa and Matti Pohjonen’s (2019) invitation to move the debate beyond a normative understanding of hate speech, this article seeks to build a foundation for conceptual and empirical inquiry of speech commonly considered deviant and disturbing. It develops in three stages. It first maps the public lives of terms that refer to online vitriol and how they have been used by different communities of researchers, politicians, advocacy groups, and national organizations. Second, it shows how different types of “haters” have been interpreted as parts of “swarms” or “armies,” depending on whether their violent potential emerges around critical incidents or whether they respond to longer-term strategies through which communities and their leaders tie their speech acts to explicit narratives. The article concludes by locating “extreme speech” within this broader conceptual tapestry, arguing that the paternalistic the gaze that characterizes a lot of research on online hate speech is tied to what Chantal Mouffe has referred to as the “moralization of politics,” a phenomenon that cannot be matched by responses that are themselves moral.
Engaging With Online Extremist Material: Experimental Evidence
2019 Reeve, Z. VOX-Pol Publication
Despite calls from governments to clamp down on violent extremist material in the online sphere, in the name of preventing radicalisation and therefore terrorism research investigating how people engage with extremist material online is surprisingly scarce. The current paper addresses this gap in knowledge with an online experiment. A fictional extremist webpage was designed and (student) participants chose how to engage with it. A mortality salience prime (being primed to think of death) was also included. Mortality salience did not influence engagement with the material but the material itself may have led to disidentification with the ingroup. Whilst interaction with the material was fairly low, those that did engage tended to indicate preference for hierarchy and dominance in society, stronger identification with the ingroup, higher levels of radicalism, and outgroup hostility. More engagement with the online extremist material was also associated with increased likelihood of explicitly supporting the extremist group. These findings show that indoctrination, socialisation, and ideology are not necessarily required for individuals to engage attitudinally or behaviourally with extremist material. This study is not conducted on the dependent variable, therefore shedding light on individuals who do not
engage with extremist material.
Challenging Extremist Views on Social: Media Developing a Counter-Messaging Response
2019 Eerten, J. van and Doosje, B. Book
This book is a timely and significant examination of the role of counter-messaging via social media as a potential means of preventing or countering radicalization to violent extremism. In recent years, extremist groups have developed increasingly sophisticated online communication strategies to spread their propaganda and promote their cause, enabling messages to be spread more rapidly and effectively. Countermessaging has been promoted as one of the most important measures to neutralize online radicalizing influences and is intended to undermine the appeal of messages disseminated by violent extremist groups. While many such initiatives have been launched by Western governments, civil society actors, and private companies, there are many questions regarding their efficacy. Focusing predominantly on efforts countering Salafi-Jihadi extremism, this book examines how feasible it is to prevent or counter radicalization and violent extremism with counter-messaging efforts. It investigates important principles to consider when devising such a program. The authors provide both a comprehensive theoretical overview and a review of the available literature, as well as policy recommendations for governments and the role they can play in counter-narrative efforts. As this is the first book to critically examine the possibilities and pitfalls of using counter-messaging to prevent radicalization or stimulate de-radicalization, it is essential reading for policymakers and professionals dealing with this issue, as well as researchers in the field.
Hate In The Machine - Anti-Black And Anti-Muslim Social Media Posts As Predictors Of Offline Racially And Religiously Aggravated Crime
2019 Williams, M. L., Burnap, P., Javed A., Liu, H. and Ozalp, S. Article
National governments now recognize online hate speech as a pernicious social problem. In the wake of political votes and terror attacks, hate incidents online and offline are known to peak in tandem. This article examines whether an association exists between both forms of hate, independent of ‘trigger’ events. Using Computational Criminology that draws on data science methods, we link police crime, census and Twitter data to establish a temporal and spatial association between online hate speech that targets race and religion, and offline racially and religiously aggravated crimes in London over an eight-month period. The findings renew our understanding of hate crime as a process, rather than as a discrete event, for the digital age
Reconciling Impact And Ethics: An Ethnography of Research in Violent Online Political Extremism
2019 Mahlouly, M. VOX-Pol Publication
Gathering empirical evidence from interviews and focus groups, this study highlights some of the ethical dilemmas faced by the academic community tasked with developing new methodological tools and conceptual frameworks for the study of violent online political extremism. At the same time, it examines how academics position themselves in relation to a broad range of non-academic stakeholders involved in the public debate about where violent extremism, terrorism and the Internet intersect. It argues that these external actors are introducing a multisectoral ‘market’ for research on online violent extremism, which creates both opportunities and limitations for the academic community. Finally, it analyses how academics from across a range of disciplines will be able to secure access to data and competitive research tools, while also engaging in a critical reflection about the
ethical considerations at stake.
Mapping The Jihadist Information Ecosystem
2019 Fisher, A., Prucha, N. and Winterbotham, E. Article
Online disruption efforts generally aim to reduce the availability of jihadist content. Yet, the speed and agility of jihadist movements online – a multiplatform approach which a co-author of this paper has previously described as a ‘swarmcast’ – has allowed groups to evolve in response to disruption efforts and find new ways to distribute content. This paper describes a model of the flow of users between social media platforms and surface web pages to access jihadist content, using data obtained through innovative collection methods. The model provides an approximate picture of the jihadist information ecosystem and how multiple platforms are used to disseminate content.
The Evolution of Online Violent Extremism In Indonesia And The Philippines
2019 Nuraniyah, N. Article
Pro-Daesh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) groups in Indonesia and the Philippines have come to rely on social media for propaganda, fundraising and disseminating instructional material, but in different ways. While Indonesian online extremism has deep roots, with local networks exploiting various online platforms over the past decade, extremist social media in the Philippines only really took off as a consequence of the May 2017 siege in the southern Philippine city of Marawi by pro-Daesh militants. This paper outlines the evolving use of online platforms by pro-Daesh groups in both countries and how this has enabled extremists to develop and strengthen their networks. Social media and encrypted chat apps have shaped the development of extremism in Indonesia and the Philippines in four main areas: branding, recruitment, fundraising, and the increasing role of women. For groups in the Philippines, direct communication with Daesh headquarters via Telegram facilitated their rebranding as the face of Daesh in Southeast Asia, more than just a local insurgency group. In both countries, social media facilitates vertical and horizontal recruitment, but not lone-actor terrorism. Extremist use of the internet for fundraising is still rudimentary –sophisticated financial cybercrime is still virtually non-existent. In all these aspects, women’s roles have become much more visible. For a long time, women had been barred from accessing extremist public spaces, let alone taking an active role as combatants.1 But through social media, women are now able to play more active roles as propagandists, recruiters, financiers, and even suicide bombers. This paper briefly discusses government responses to online extremism, noting that there have been mixed results between Indonesia and the Philippines. Indonesian authorities have undoubtedly been the more successful of the two regimes – both in terms of law enforcement and engagement with the tech sector – but its counter terrorism police now face the problem of how to judiciously use their powers in a democratic manner. The Philippines, meanwhile, is still at the starting line in terms of dealing with online extremism, with the military more accustomed to removing threats than trying to understand them.
Following The Whack-a-Mole Britian First's Visual Strategy From Facebook To Gab
2019 Nouri,L., Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Watkin, A.L. Article
The focus of this paper is on the extremist group Britain First. As such, it does not explore online terrorist activity but rather examines how a group regarded as extremist is subject to online sanctions. The removal of the extremist group Britain First from Facebook in March 2018 successfully disrupted the group’s online activity, leading them to have to start anew on Gab, a different and considerably smaller social media platform. The removal also resulted in the group having to seek new online followers from a much smaller, less diverse recruitment pool. This paper demonstrates the further impact of the group’s platform migration on their online strategy – particularly on their choice of images and the engagement levels generated through them. The paper puts forward a number of key recommendations, most importantly that social-media companies should continue to censor and remove hateful content.
Detection And Classification Of Social Media Based Extremist Affiliations Using Sentiment Analysis Techniques
2019 Ahmad, S., Asghar, M. Z., Alotaibi, F. M. and Awan, I. Article
Identification and classification of extremist-related tweets is a hot issue. Extremist gangs have been involved in using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for propagating their ideology and recruitment of individuals. This work aims at proposing a terrorism-related content analysis framework with the focus on classifying tweets into extremist and non-extremist classes. Based on user-generated social media posts on Twitter, we develop a tweet classifcation system using deep learning-based sentiment analysis techniques to classify the tweets as extremist or non-extremist. The experimental results are encouraging and provide a gateway for future researchers.
Shedding Light On Terrorist And Extremist Content Removal
2019 Vegt, I.V.D. Gill, P., Macdonald,S. and Kleinberg, B. Article
Social media and tech companies face the challenge of identifying and removing terrorist and extremist content from their platforms. This paper presents the findings of a series of interviews with Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) partner companies and law enforcement Internet Referral Units (IRUs). It offers a unique view on current practices and challenges regarding content removal, focusing particularly on human-based and automated approaches and the integration of the two.
The platform governance triangle: conceptualising the informal regulation of online content
2019 Gorwa, R. Article
From the new Facebook ‘Oversight Body’ for content moderation to the ‘Christchurch Call to eliminate terrorism and violent extremism online,’ a growing number of voluntary and non-binding informal governance initiatives have recently been proposed as attractive ways to rein in Facebook, Google, and other platform companies hosting user-generated content. Drawing on the literature on transnational corporate governance, this article reviews a number of informal arrangements governing online content on platforms in Europe, mapping them onto Abbott and Snidal’s (2009) ‘governance triangle’ model. I discuss three key dynamics shaping the success of informal governance arrangements: actor competencies, ‘legitimation politics,’ and inter-actor relationships of power and coercion.
A Study Of Outlinks Contained In Tweets Monitoring Rumiya
2019 Macdonald, S., Grinnell, D., Kinzel A., and Lorenzo-Dus, A. Article
This paper focuses on the attempts by Daesh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) to use Twitter to disseminate its online magazine, Rumiyah. It examines a data set of 11,520 tweets mentioning Rumiyah that contained an out link, to evaluate the success of Daesh’s attempts to use Twitter as a gateway to issues of its magazine.
The Neurocognitive Process Of Digital Radicalization - A Theoretical Model And Analytical Framework
2019 Howard, T., Poston, B. and Benning, S. D. Article
Recent studies suggest that empathy induced by narrative messages can effectively facilitate persuasion and reduce psychological reactance. Although limited, emerging research on the etiology of radical political behavior has begun to explore the role of narratives in shaping an individual’s beliefs, attitudes, and intentions that culminate in radicalization. The existing studies focus exclusively on the influence of narrative persuasion on an individual, but they overlook the necessity of empathy and that in the absence of empathy, persuasion is not salient. We argue that terrorist organizations are strategic in cultivating empathetic-persuasive messages using audiovisual materials, and disseminating their message within the digital medium. Therefore, in this paper we propose a theoretical model and analytical framework capable of helping us better understand the neurocognitive process of digital radicalization.