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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
GCTF - Zurich-London Recommendations ENG
|2018||Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group||Report|
|The Global Counterterrorism Forum published this report to compile a non-exhaustive list of governmental good practices regarding strategic communications and social media aspects in preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism online for GCTF Members – as well as any other interested Government. The good practices expressed in this document were identified in meetings and subsequent discussions with GCTF Members, reflecting their experience in this regard. Moreover, with these recommendations, the GCTF aims to support and complement existing work and initiatives by other international and regional organisations, namely the UN and other relevant stakeholders involved in this context. The good practices are divided into three sections: Section I addresses overarching good practices for preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism online; Section II addresses good practices for content-based responses; and Section III addresses good practices for communications-based responses.|
Antisemetic content on Twitter
|2018||Community Security Trust||Report|
|This report presents an analysis of the
production and propagation of online
antagonistic content related to Jews
posted on Twitter between October 2015
and October 2016 in the UK.
Counter Conversations: A Model for Direct Engagement with Individuals Showing Signs of Radicalisation Online
|2018||Davey, J., Birdwell, J., and Skellet, R.||Report|
|This report outlines the results of a programme trialling
a methodology for identifying individuals who are
demonstrating signs of radicalisation on social media,
and engaging these individuals in direct, personalised
and private ‘counter-conversations’ for the purpose of
de-radicalisation from extremist ideology and
disengagement from extremist movements. This is
the first programme globally which has trialled the
delivery of online interventions in a systematised
and scaled fashion.
Tweet... If You Dare: How Counter-Terrorism Laws Restrict Freedom of Expression in Spain
|Social media users, journalists, lawyers
and musicians have been prosecuted
under Article 578 of the Spanish
Criminal Code, which prohibits “glorifying
terrorism” and “humiliating the victims
of terrorism”. Although this provision
was first introduced in 2000, it is only in
recent years, following its amendment
in 2015, that prosecutions and convictions
under Article 578 have sharply risen.
The result is increasing self-censorship
and a broader chilling effect on freedom
of expression in Spain.
Encouraging Counter-Speech by Mapping the Contours of Hate Speech on Facebook in India
|2018||Mirchandani, M., Goel, O., and Sahai, D.||Report|
|Efforts at Countering Violent Extremism (or CVE in internationally
accepted terminology) online have become an important focus for all social
networks. CVE targets violent, extremist ideologies at their core, tackling
them via alternate narratives that focus on peace-building through
community interaction. It has thus become an invaluable tool to supplement
counterterrorism strategies worldwide.
Iraq Information Controls Update: Analyzing Internet Filtering and Mobile Apps
|2014||Dalek, J., Senft, A., Winter, P., and Dranka A.||Report|
|We have examined two mobile applications that have received significant attention in
coverage of the Iraq insurgency. The first, FireChat, is a U.S.-developed mobile messaging platform that
facilitates off-the-grid messaging; features which make it ideal in situations where Internet access is restricted,
and that has resulted in growing user numbers in Iraq. However, it is crucial that as applications such as
FireChat become more popular in dangerous environments like Iraq, that users are informed about the security
features and limitations of using such tools. The second application, Dawn of Glad Tidings, is an Android app
developed by ISIS that has been reported to broadcast messages using the Twitter accounts of users who
install the application.
Fool me Once: How Terrorists Like and Rely Upon the "See no Evil, Hear no Evil" Business Model of Google Facebook and Instagram
|2018||Digital Citizens Alliance||Report|
|The latest Digital Citizens Alliance investigation exposes the fallacy that
much, if anything, has changed. Partnering with the Global Intellectual Property
Enforcement Center (GIPEC), Digital Citizens has reviewed dozens of examples
of how terrorist organizations continue to rely on digital platforms such as
Google, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to promote hate speech and recruit.
What it underscores is that the problem is not a surface issue that can be
solved simply through greater vigilance or the hiring of more content monitors.
The true cause of these troubling issues is the business model of these
platforms. When Cambridge Analytica inappropriately received the personal
information of at least 87 million Americans harvested by Facebook there was
no breach—Facebook turned that information over to the company because its
business model is to monetize users’ personal information with advertisers and
NYPD vs. Revolution Muslim: Te Inside Story of the Defeat of a Local Radicalization Hub
|2018||Morton, J. and Silber, M.||Report|
|Between 2006 and 2012, two men working on opposite
sides of the struggle between global jihadis and the United
States faced of in New York City. One was the founder of
Revolution Muslim, a group which proselytized—online
and on New York streets—on behalf of al-Qa`ida. The
other led eforts to track the terrorist threat facing the
city. Here, they tell the inside story of the rise of Revolution
Muslim and how the NYPD, by using undercover ofcers
and other methods, put the most dangerous homegrown
jihadi support group to emerge on U.S. soil since 9/11
out of business. As the Islamic State adjusts to its loss of
territory, this case study provides lessons for current and
future counterterrorism investigations.
The Role of Police Online in PVE and CVE
|2018||Lenos, S. and Wouterse, L.||Report|
|This paper is written for police wanting an
overview of their online PCVE options, and is
based on the RAN POL meeting on ‘The role of
police online’ that took place on 1-2 March in
Who Dissemnates Rumiyah? Examining the Relative Influence of Sympathiser and Non-Sympathiser Twitter Users
|2018||Grinnell D., Macdonald S., Mair D. & Lorenzo-Dus N.||Report|
|This paper was presented at the 2nd European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) Advisory Group conference, 17-18 April 2018, at Europol Headquarters, The Hague. The views expressed are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent those of Europol.
In a speech delivered at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017, the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called on social media companies to do more to remove and block terrorist content from their platforms . In the speech she stated that the average lifespan of online propaganda from the so-called Islamic State (IS) was 36 hours. For such content to be disrupted effectively, she claimed that this figure needed to be reduced to one to two hours. This has since come to be known as the ‘golden window’: if terrorist material can be detected and removed within one to two hours, its spread will be prevented.
UK Insight Report Volume 4 Summary
|The OCCI Insight Reports equip NGO partners on an ongoing basis with the knowledge
needed to develop effective, targeted campaigns. Without access to in-depth, data-driven
insights into the fast-evolving landscape of extremist and terrorist propaganda, narratives
and networks, it is impossible to mount a proportional targeted response. Additionally, the
reports highlight recommendations for future counterspeech campaigning to address the
identified narratives. OCCI will work closely with any organisation who is interested in
piloting and implementing these recommendations.
Delivering Hate : How Amazon’s Platforms Are Used to Spread White Supremacy, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia and How Amazon Can Stop It
|2018||Partnership for Working Families, ACRE Action Centre||Report|
|Amazon has been called the “everything store,” but today it is much more than just a store, with publishing, streaming,
and web services businesses. Its reach and infuence are unparalleled: Most U.S. online shopping trips begin at Amazon,4
Amazon dominates the U.S. e-book business,5 and the company’s web services division has over 60 percent of the cloud
computing services market.6 All this adds up for Amazon and its owners. The company posted record profts of $1.9 billion
in the last three quarters of 2017,7 and CEO Jef Bezos’s wealth soared to $140 billion in 2018, largely because of the value of
8 A close examination of Amazon’s various platforms and services reveals that for growing racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic
movements, the breadth of Amazon’s business combined with its weak and inadequately enforced policies provides a number
of channels through which hate groups can generate revenue, propagate their ideas, and grow their movements. We looked
at several areas of Amazon’s business, including its online shops, digital music platform, Kindle and CreateSpace publishing
platforms, and web services business.
The Use of Social Media by United States Extremists
|2018||Jensen M., James P., LaFree G., Safer-Lichtenstein A. and Yates E.||Report|
|Emerging communication technologies, and social media platforms in particular, play an increasingly important role
in the radicalization and mobilization processes of violent and non-violent extremists (Archetti, 2015; Cohen et al.,
2014; Farwell, 2014; Klausen, 2015). However, the extent to which extremists utilize social media, and whether it
influences terrorist outcomes, is still not well understood (Conway, 2017). This research brief expands the current
knowledge base by leveraging newly collected data on the social media activities of 479 extremists in the PIRUS
dataset who radicalized between 2005 and 2016.
1 This includes descriptive analyses of the frequency of social
media usage among U.S. extremists, the types of social media platforms used, the differences in the rates of social
media use by ideology and group membership, the purposes of social media use, and the impact of social media on
foreign fighter travel and domestic terrorism plots.
Pulling Back the Curtain: An Inside Look at the Islamic State’s Media Organization
|The CTC is committed to continuing to search out unique sources of data to provide insight into the
workings of terrorist organizations and, when possible, making them available to the broader research
community, which will undoubtedly add its own insights and continue to enhance our collective understanding.
To further this end, all of the documents (both the original Arabic as well as English
translations) referred to in this report are being released on the CTC’s website at ctc.usma.edu.5 These
13 documents provide interesting and important insights on four main topics regarding the Islamic
State’s media organization.
The first insight is that these documents offer, for the first time, a conclusive link between the Islamic
State’s central media bureau and Amaq News Agency. More specifically, these documents show that
the central media bureau considered Amaq to be on par with other previously recognized central media
entities such as Al-Naba and Al-Bayan. Furthermore, the Islamic State’s Diwan of Central Media
encouraged local media bureaus to send content to Amaq, going so far as to make cooperation with
Amaq a part of each local media bureau’s monthly evaluation.
The second is that these documents show the emphasis the organization placed on producing diferent
types of products in order to convey a broader narrative about the caliphate. Although examining
the group’s propaganda products after they have been released demonstrates this as well, the level of
detail and effort put in by the group to this end, as highlighted by these documents, is more expansive
than previously acknowledged.
Third, these documents show very clearly how the Diwan of Central Media created rules, evaluations,
and internal memos that were designed to strengthen the centralization of the group’s media bureaucracy,
solidifying the central media organization’s control over what and how the local media bureaus
carried on their propaganda work. This finding runs counter to some discussion on decentralization
as one of the main reasons for the success of the group’s media operations.6
There certainly is an element
of decentralization to the group’s online activities, but these documents show there is a limit
to the group’s willingness to decentralize in the media realm. Indeed, in a document titled “General
Guidance and Instructions,” we find the following counsel:
“We also advise the brothers to avoid innovation because it is mostly the main cause of mistakes.”7
Finally, the documents show that the Islamic State’s media organization exercises self-awareness in
terms of its potential vulnerability. Indeed, the documents provide several insights into how the media
side of the organization recognized that its role in promoting the group meant that the media components
of the group would be in possession of information that could result in harm if it were known or otherwise obtained by the enemy. This led the group to focus on the importance of information
security among media operatives.
The Islamic State’s efforts in each of these four areas provide a more detailed understanding not only
of how the group organized and implemented its media strategy, but also how a militant organization
was able to capture the world’s attention using the art of propaganda. This report proceeds by examining
each of these four areas in turn.
The Eglyph Web Crawler: ISIS Content on YouTube
|2018||Counter Extremism Project||Report|
|From March 8 to June 8, 2018, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) conducted a
study to better understand how ISIS content is being uploaded to YouTube, how long
it is staying online, and how many views these videos receive. To accomplish this,
CEP conducted a limited search for a small set of just 229 previously-identified ISIS
terror-related videos from among the trove of extremist material available on the
CEP used two computer programs to locate these ISIS videos: a web crawler to
search video titles and descriptions for keywords in videos uploaded to YouTube, and
eGLYPH, a robust hashing content-identification system. CEP’s search of a limited
set of ISIS terror-related videos found that hundreds of ISIS videos are uploaded to
YouTube every month, which in turn garner thousands of views.
Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube
|This report identifies and names the Alternative Influence Network (AIN): an
assortment of scholars, media pundits, and internet celebrities who use YouTube to
promote a range of political positions, from mainstream versions of libertarianism
and conservatism, all the way to overt white nationalism. Content creators in the AIN
claim to provide an alternative media source for news and political commentary. They
function as political influencers who adopt the techniques of brand influencers to
build audiences and “sell” them on far-right ideology.
This report presents data from approximately 65 political influencers across 81 channels.
This network is connected through a dense system of guest appearances, mixing content
from a variety of ideologies. This cross-promotion of ideas forms a broader “reactionary”
position: a general opposition to feminism, social justice, or left-wing politics.
Members of the AIN cast themselves as an alternative media system by:
• Establishing an alternative sense of credibility based on relatability,
authenticity, and accountability.
• Cultivating an alternative social identity using the image of a social
underdog, and countercultural appeal.
Members of the AIN use the proven engagement techniques of brand influencers to
spread ideological content:
• Ideological Testimonials
• Political Self-Branding
• Search Engine Optimization
• Strategic Controversy
The AIN as a whole facilitates radicalization through social networking practices:
• Audiences are able to easily move from mainstream to extreme content
through guest appearances and other links.
• Political influencers themselves often shift to more radical positions
following interactions with other influencers or their own audiences.
When viewers engage with this content, it is framed as lighthearted, entertaining,
rebellious, and fun. This fundamentally obscures the impact that issues have on
vulnerable and underrepresented populations—the LGBTQ community, women,
immigrants, and people of color. And in many ways, YouTube is built to incentivize
this behavior. The platform needs to not only assess what channels say in their
content, but also who they host and what their guests say. In a media environment
consisting of networked influencers, YouTube must respond with policies that
account for influence and amplification, as well as social networks.
Measuring the Impact of ISIS Social Media Strategy
|2018||Alfifi, M., Kaghazgaran P., Caverlee, J., Morstatter F.||Report|
|Terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have exploited social media such as Twitter to spread their propaganda and to recruit new members. In this work we study the extent to which ISIS is able to spread their message beyond their immediate supporters. Are they operating in their own sphere with limited interaction with the overall community? Or are they well rooted among normal users? We find that three-quarters of the interactions ISIS received on Twitter in 2015 actually came from eventually suspended accounts raising questions about the potential number of ISIS-related accounts and how organic ISIS audience is. Towards tackling these questions, we have created a unique dataset of 17 million ISIS-related tweets posted in 2015. This dataset is available for research purposes upon request.|
Understanding the Impact of Terrorist Event Reporting on Countering Violent Extremism: From A Practitioner’s Perspective
|This report presents the key findings from the London Roundtable on “Understanding the Impact of Terrorist Event Reporting on Countering Violent Extremism”. The event was held at the
Australian High Commission in London on 30-31 January 2018. The roundtable brought together media practitioners, CVE and PVE front line practitioners, policy-makers and academics
drawn from Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the United States of America. Other attendees included representatives from various
Australian and British Government departments and New Scotland Yard. This report provides summaries of each of the panel discussions that were delivered at the
roundtable, before drawing out the key themes, which emerged and policy recommendations.
Applying Local Image Feature Descriptions to Aid the Detection of Radicalization Processes in Twitter
|2018||López-Sánchez, D., Corchado, J.||Report|
|This paper was presented at the 2nd European Counter-Terrorism Centre (ECTC) Advisory Group conference, 17-18 April 2018, at Europol Headquarters, The Hague.
The views expressed are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent those of Europol.
OK Google, Show Me Extremism: Analysis of YouTube’s Extremist Video Takedown Policy and Counter-Narrative Program
|2018||Counter Extremism Project||Report|
|ISIS and other extremist groups, as well as their online supporters, have continued to exploit and misuse Google’s platforms to disseminate propaganda material, despite the company having repeatedly announced increased measures to combat online extremism.1 On July 21, 2017, Google announced the launch of one such measure––its Redirect Method Pilot Program. The program is intended to target individuals searching for ISIS-related content on YouTube and direct them to counter-narrative videos, which try to undermine the messaging of extremist
groups.2 The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) monitors and tracks ISIS and other terrorist organizations’ material on YouTube. Between August 2 and August 3, 2018, CEP reviewed a
total of 649 YouTube videos for extremist and counter-narrative content. The result of CEP’s searches highlights the extent of the enduring problem of terrorist content on YouTube and
undermines claims touting the efficacy of the company’s efforts to combat online extremism.