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
Gaming and Extremism: The Extreme Right on DLive
2021 Thomas, E. Report
This briefing is part of ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series exploring the role online gaming plays in the strategy of far-right extremists in the UK and globally. This is part of a broader programme on the ‘Future of Extremism’ being delivered by ISD in the second half of 2021, charting the transformational shifts in the extremist threat landscape two decades on from 9/11, and the policy strategies required to counter the next generation of extremist threats. This section focuses on providing a snapshot overview of the extreme right’s use of DLive.
Hatescape: An In-Depth Analysis of Extremism and Hate Speech on TikTok
2021 O’Connor, C. Report
This report aims to provide an in-depth analysis on the state of extremism and hate on TikTok. It is the culmination of three months of research on a sample of 1,030 videos, equivalent to just over eight hours of content, posted on the social media platform. These videos were used to promote hatred, as well as glorify extremism and terrorism.

ISD set out to examine the state of hate and extremism on TikTok in two ways. The first objective involved analysing how individuals or groups promote hateful ideologies and target people on the platform based on numerous protected attributes such as ethnicity, religion, gender or others. Second, using the same framework, ISD investigated how features on TikTok like profiles, hashtags, share functions, video effects and music are used to spread hate.

This report seeks to start a conversation around how platforms like TikTok can improve their own practices to protect users from harm. Additionally, it underscores the clear need for independent oversight of such platforms, which currently leave users and the wider public open to significant risks to their health, security and rights.
Gaming and Extremism: The Extreme Right on Discord
2021 Gallagher, A., O’Connor, C., Vaux, P., Thomas, E. and Davey, J. Report
This briefing is part of ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series exploring the role online gaming plays in the strategy of far-right extremists in the UK and globally. This is part of a broader programme on the ‘Future of Extremism’ being delivered by ISD in the second half of 2021, charting the transformational shifts in the extremist threat landscape two decades on from 9/11, and the policy strategies required to counter the next generation of extremist threats. It provides a snapshot overview of the extreme right’s use of Discord.
A Computational Approach to Explore Extremist Ideologies in Daesh Discourse
2021 Khafaga, A.F. Article
This paper uses a computer-based frequency analysis to present an ideological discourse analysis of extremist ideologies in Daesh discourse. More specifically, by using a computer-assisted text analysis, the paper attempts to investigate the hidden extremist ideologies beyond the discourse of the first issue of Rumiyah, one of the main digital publications of Daesh. The paper’s main objectives are to expose hidden ideologies beyond the mere linguistic form of discourse, to offer better linguistic understanding of the manipulative use of language in religious discourse, and to highlight the relevance of using a computer-based frequency analysis to discourse studies and corpus linguistics. The paper also employs van Dijk's ideological discourse analysis, by adopting his positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation strategies. Findings reveal that Daesh discourse in Rumiyah is rhetorically structured to hide the manipulative ideologies of its users, which in turn functions to reformulate the social, political and religious attitudes of its readers.
Online Jihadist Propaganda: 2020 in Review
2021 Europol Report
The third edition of Europol’s annual report on Online Jihadist Propaganda provides a comprehensive analysis of the major trends and developments in online propaganda of the most prominent jihadist organisations for the year 2020.
The personality and propaganda puzzle: Exploring the effect of personality on exposure to extremist content online
2021 Shortland, N. and McGarry, P. Article
Objective: This paper applies Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory to explain the role of exposure to violent extremist content online in the wider psychological process of “radicalization.” Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory is a suitable theory to apply to this domain given that (a) the motivation to engage in violent extremism is widely discussed, yet motivational theories are rarely applied and (b) current risk factors for engagement in violent extremist behavior show a high degree of overlap with core Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory variables (e.g., impulsivity and social dominance). Method: This study uses an experimental design in which 479 participants from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk were randomly assigned one of two short vignettes (violent extremist/violent nonextremist) to frame the content of a social media-based behavioral task. The effect of exposure to violent extremist content online on intentions for political mobilization was measured via the Activism and Radicalism Intentions Scale. Results: While exposure to online violent extremist content did not increase tendencies for political mobilization, Behavioral Activation System traits were positively associated with the willingness to engage with violent extremist content online and with intentions for political mobilization. Conclusions: Behavioral Activation System traits provide a possible avenue to explain individual differences in the process of radicalization and the potential relevance of Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory for theories of radicalization provides further evidence that new knowledge that can be gleaned by applying established psychological theories to the study of radicalization.
Gaming and Extremism: The Extreme Right on Steam
2021 Vaux, P., Gallagher, A. and Davey, J. Report
This briefing is part of ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series exploring the role online gaming plays in the strategy of far-right extremists in the UK and globally. This is part of a broader programme on the “Future of Extremism” being delivered by ISD in the second half of 2021, charting the transformational shifts in the extremist threat landscape two decades on from 9/11, and the policy strategies required to counter the next generation of extremist threats. It provides a snapshot overview of the extreme right’s use of Steam.
Gamers Who Hate: An Introduction to ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series
2021 Davey, J. Report
This briefing is the first in ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series exploring the role online gaming plays in the strategy of far-right extremists in the UK and around the world. This is part of a broader programme on the “Future of Extremism” being delivered by ISD in the second half of 2021, charting the transformational shifts in the extremist threat landscape two decades since 9/11, and the policy strategies required to counter the next generation of extremist threats. The series will include reports exploring extremist activity on four gaming-related platforms: Steam, Discord, DLive and Twitch.
Topologies and Tribulations of Gettr
2021 Thiel, D. and McCain, M. Report
On July 1, 2021, a new social network modeled after Twitter was launched by former Trump spokesman Jason Miller, with assistance and promotion by exiled Chinese businessman Miles Guo, form Trump strategist Steve Bannon, and others. Today, the Stanford Internet Observatory is releasing the first comprehensive analysis of the new platform. We chart the growth of Gettr over its first month, examining the user community, content, structure and dynamics. We also highlight some of the perils of launching such a network without trust and safety measures in place: the proliferation of gratuitous adult content, spam and, unfortunately, child exploitation imagery, all of which could be caught by cursory automated scanning systems.
Social media corporations as actors of counter-terrorism
2021 Borelli, M. Article
This article discusses the role of giant social media corporations Facebook, Google (YouTube), and Twitter in counter-terrorism and countering violent extremisms (CT/CVEs). Based on a qualitative investigation mobilizing corporate communications as well as a collection of interviews with European stakeholders, it argues that these firms have become actors in this policy area of what is traditionally considered high politics, through their fundamental role in establishing and enforcing the nascent global governance regime on terrorist communications. Since the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the studied firms have displayed agency and creativity in their appropriation of this new responsibility, effectively going beyond what was legally required of them. After contextualizing and questioning their involvement, motivated by terrorist exploitation of their services, reputational pressure and the threat of legislation, the article provides an analysis of the firms’ self-regulated commitment to CT/CVE through policymaking, content moderation, human resources, and private multilateralism.
The Online Intersection among Islamophobia, Populism, and Hate Speech: An Italian Perspective
2021 Vitullo, A. Article
Online radical Islam is a topic widely studied by scholars and notoriously discussed among non- experts as well (; ; ). Because of its intrinsic characteristics (i.e. accessibility, anonymity, or users’ identity dissimulation), the internet has always been a useful tool for propagandists of Islamic fundamentalism (; ; ). However, in the last decade, studies have questioned the real importance and magnitude of Islamic radicalization online (). In fact, while scholars were focused on observing digital Islamic radicalization, a galaxy of new forms of extremism was growing online (; ) that no longer made Islam an exceptional case study. Today, Muslim people are one of the groups most aggressively targeted by extremist, intolerant, violent, and radical discourses (; Amnesty International, ). Anti-Muslim hate speech has spread online throughout Europe and the United States, reinforced by the propaganda and political discourse of populist right-wing parties (; ). This paper introduces some large-scale action-research projects developed in Europe and Italy in the last three years (2016–2019) and aims to reconstruct the most updated Islamophobia state of the art in terms of numbers, characteristics, and phenomenology from the offline to the online context.
Salafist Third Spaces and Hybridic Purity on YouTube
2021 Stadlbauer, S. Article
This case study applies aspects of third space theory (; ) to investigate the activism on the YouTube channel Salafimedia UK (smuk) and their claim to be the self-proscribed “truest” and “purest” Islamic sect. This chapter introduces the somewhat paradoxical concept of “hybridic purity” – an emerging ideology that seeks to encompass pre-modern Islamic practices of the salaf (“predecessors” or first generations of Muslims) as the purest form of Islam (see also ); modern values of individuality and reliance on the “self”; the affordances of the YouTube channel; and resistance to present-day Western cultural and political values, especially those of the United Kingdom (UK), as well as to the UK government’s censorship and bans of Salafist movements. This hybridic purity becomes authoritative as it compels YouTube audience members to take responsibility for their own growth and activism as pious Salafists.
Online Group Dynamics Reveal New Gel Science
2021 Manrique PD, Oud SE, Johnson NF. Article
A better understanding of how support evolves online for undesirable behaviors such as extremism and hate, could help mitigate future harms. Here we show how the highly irregular growth curves of groups supporting two high-profile extremism movements, can be accurately described if we generalize existing gelation models to account for the facts that the number of potential recruits is timedependent and humans are heterogeneous. This leads to a novel generalized Burgers equation that describes these groups’ temporal evolution, and predicts a critical influx rate for potential recruits beyond which such groups will not form. Our findings offer a new approach to managing undesirable groups online – and more broadly, managing the sudden appearance and growth of large macroscopic aggregates in a complex system – by manipulating their onset and engineering their growth curves.
Examining the interactive effects of the filter bubble and the echo chamber on radicalization
2021 Wolfowicz, M., Weisburd, D. and Hasisi, B. Article
Objectives
Despite popular notions of “filter bubbles” and “echo chambers” contributing to radicalization, little evidence exists to support these hypotheses. However, social structure social learning theory would suggest a hereto untested interaction effect.
Methodology
An RCT of new Twitter users in which participants were randomly assigned to a treatment of “filter bubble” (personalization algorithm) suppression. Ego-centric network and survey data were combined to test the effects on justification for suicide bombings.
Findings
Statistically significant interaction effects were found for two proxies of the echo chamber, the E-I index and modularity. For the treatment group, higher scores on both factors decreased the likelihood for radicalization, with opposing trends in the control group.
Conclusions
The echo chamber effect may be dependent on the filter bubble. More research is needed on online network structures in radicalization. While personalization algorithms can potentially be harmful, they may also be leveraged to facilitate interventions.
The Fission of the Forbidden: The Popularity of Video Content in an Online Right-Wing Extremist Environment
2021 Waldek, L. Article
Video platforms such as YouTube provide an environment where the blurred duality between content dissemination and creation facilitates the generation of social networks. Research into online violent extremist environments has often noted the prominence of video-sharing platforms as a means of distributing propaganda and cultivating social networks for purposes of recruitment. This paper draws from the study of emotion to examine three videos and associated comments that had high engagement, understood as the frequency of interactions, likes/upvotes and reposts in a given social network, in a right-wing extremist online milieu. This analysis highlights the important role emotions play in generating social connectedness and ultimately engagement and recruitment into online right-wing extremist milieus. Understanding the significance of emotions in online violent extremist video content can help to identify opportunities for moderation and/or the construction of alternative narratives.
Panic, pizza and mainstreaming the alt-right: A social media analysis of Pizzagate and the rise of the QAnon conspiracy
2021 Bleakley, P. Article
The conspiracy theory known as ‘Pizzagate’ gained a cult following on alt-right forums, ultimately prompting one believer to conduct a shooting on the pizzeria identified by online conspiracists. A thematic analysis of 767 tweets referencing Pizzagate selected from five key intervention points in this timeframe reveals several factors influencing Pizzagate’s continued appeal over a four-year period. The article examines how an online alt-right conspiracy collective, QAnon, weaponized Pizzagate as part of its overarching campaign to attract support for President Donald Trump and worked to establish the theory as a popular (albeit false) narrative within the contemporary political zeitgeist.
The Meme Is the Method: Examining the Power of the Image Within Extremist Propaganda
2021 Kingdon, A. Article
As contemporary society becomes immersed in a visual culture, extremist imagery is becoming progressively organized around a network of symbols, rituals, and collective meanings. The research presented here employs one distinctive meme of the Waco Siege as a template to guide the reader through three different manifestations of anti-government extremism, and provides a conceptual framework on which future research can build. The significance of this approach lies in its ability to capture both the universality of an individual meme—its overarching message on which all viewers can agree—and its peculiarity—the inherent crystallizations and contrasting narratives perceived by individual users, operating on different social media platforms, at particular moments in time. This chapter will also outline the primary methodological and ethical considerations that need to be taken into consideration by researchers using memes as the primary object of study.
Chapter 10: On free public communication and terrorism online
2021 Henschke, A. Chapter
The basic issue that this chapter examines is how we set morally justifiable limits on what people say online, with a specific focus on speech acts related to terrorism. The chapter takes as one of its foundational assumptions that there are situations in which free speech, while an important and potentially fundamental right, can be justifiably limited: ‘If there is a Free Speech Principle, it means that free speech is a good card to hold. It does not mean that free speech is the ace of trumps’. This chapter draws from discussions of free speech to explain how and when particular sorts of constraints on public
communications are justified. It begins with a recognition that the norms of behaviour and free speech online are evolving, moves to an exploration of the key conceptual and ethical discussions around free speech, and closes with a set of framing questions to give some guidance as to how we can approach the question of whether online terrorist public communications should be restricted or not.
Counter-terrorism, social media and the regulation of extremist content
2021 West, L.J. Chapter
This insightful book provides an analysis of the central ethical issues that have arisen in combatting global terrorism and, in particular, jihadist terrorist groups, notably Al Qaeda, Islamic State and their affiliates. Chapters explore the theoretical problems that arise in relation to terrorism, such as the definition of terrorism and the concept of collective responsibility, and consider specific ethical issues in counter-terrorism.
How dark corners collude: a study on an online Chinese alt-right community
2021 Yang, T. and Fang, K. Article
The rise of the ‘alt-right’ (alternative right) and their communications on the Internet are not unique to the West. This study follows a mixed-methods approach combining topic modeling, social network analysis, and discourse analysis to analyze the discursive and network structure of an online Chinese alt-right community on Weibo. We summarize the topics Chinese alt-right influencers discuss and examine how these topics are interrelated. We find that the Chinese alt-right discourse can be deemed as both an extension and localization of the global alt-right: they frequently discuss global alt-right issues and also hold alt-right ideologies on domestic issues. Meanwhile, influencers in the community are densely connected, suggesting a high level of coordination and cooperation. We particularly identify two discursive strategies that alt-right influencers employ to reproduce the transnational alt-right discourse, namely invented common crisis of majority culture and transnational metaphor usage. These findings provide insights into the transnational aspect of the rise of global alt-right.