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
A Multimodal Mixed Methods Approach for Examining Recontextualisation Patterns of Violent Extremist Images in Online Media
2018 Tan, S., O'Halloran, K.L., Wignell, P., Chai., K., Lange, R. Journal
This paper uses a multimodal mixed methods approach for exploring general recontextualisation patterns of violent extremist images in online media. Specifically, the paper reports on the preliminary findings of a preliminary study which investigates various patterns in the reuse of images which appear in ISIS’s official propaganda magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah by others across various public online media platforms (e.g. news websites, social media news aggregates, blogs). Using a mixed methods approach informed by multimodal discourse analysis, and combined with data mining and information visualisation, the study addresses questions such as which types of images produced and used by ISIS in its propaganda magazines recirculate most frequently in other online media over time, on which types of online media these images reappear, and in which contexts they are used and reused on these websites, that is that is, whether the tone of the message is corporate (formal) or personal (informal). Preliminary findings from the study suggest different recontextualisation patterns for certain types of ISIS-related images of over time. The study also found that the majority of violent extremist images used in the sample analysis appear to circulate most frequently on Western news and politics websites and news aggregate platforms, in predominantly formal contexts.
A New Approach to Counter Radicalization
2014 US Council on Foreign Relations Video
US Council on Foreign Relations panel discussion on approaches to countering radicalisation. Panel members include Peter Neumann of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, a VOX-Pol partner. Originally recorded on 18 May 2011 and uploaded by the Council on Foreign Relations on April 1, 2011
A Philosophical and Historical Analysis of “Generation Identity”: Fascism, Online Media, and the European New Right
2019 Richards, I. Article
This article analyzes ideological and organizational characteristics of the pan-European youth movement, “Generation Identity” (GI), through a philosophical and historical lens. With a synoptic perspective on existing and original research, it outlines an analysis of key GI literature as well as its ideological influences, activist behavior, and media strategies. This research reveals that, like other twentieth and twenty-first century examples of neo-fascism, the movement is syncretic and attempts to legitimize its political aims through reference to historical quasi- and proto-fascist cases, in combination with popular left and right-wing political ideals. A reflection on GI’s activist behavior, on the other hand, demonstrates that the movement is relatively unique in the field of current far-right politics; particularly in the extent to which it draws practical inspiration from the tactics and propagandizing strategies of contemporary left-wing movements. GI’s online presence, including its leaders’ promotion of gamification, also illustrates its distinctive appeal to young, relatively affluent, countercultural and digitally literate populations. Finally, while in many respects GI is characteristic of the “European New Right” (ENR), the analysis finds that its spokespersons’ various promotion of capitalism and commodification, including through their advocacy of international trade and sale of merchandise, diverges from the anti-capitalist philosophizing of contemporary ENR thinkers.
A Plan for Preventing and Countering Terrorist and Violent Extremist Exploitation of Information and Communications Technology in America
2019 Alexander, A. Report
Policymakers in the United States know that terrorists and violent extremists exploit information and communications technologies (ICTs), but the government still struggles to prevent and counter these threats. Although the U.S. does not face these challenges alone, the strategies and policies emphasized by some of its greatest allies are not viable or suitable frameworks for domestic policymakers. Since these threats persist, however, the U.S. government must develop a cohesive strategy to prevent and counter-terrorist and violent extremist exploitation of ICTs. The approach should rest on the pillars of pragmatism, proportionality, and respect for the rule of law, and aim to disrupt terrorist and violent extremist networks in the digital sphere. To pursue this objective, the following brief calls for political leaders to create an interagency working group to formalize leadership and conduct a comprehensive assessment of terrorist and violent extremist abuse of ICTs. The evaluation must also weigh the costs and benefits associated with responses to these threats. Then, government officials should work to enhance the capability and coordination of government-led efforts, pursue partnerships with non-governmental entities, and facilitate productive engagements with the technology industry. In short, this approach would allow the government to use legislation, redress, and strategic outreach to empower more players to responsibly prevent and counter terrorist and violent extremist exploitation of ICTs.
A Quantitative Approach To Understanding Online Antisemitism
2018 Finkelstein, J., Zannettou, S., Bradlyn, B. and Blackburn, J. Article
A new wave of growing antisemitism, driven by fringe Web communities, is an increasingly worrying presence in the socio-political realm. The ubiquitous and global nature of the Web has provided tools used by these groups to spread their ideology to the rest of the Internet. Although the study of antisemitism and hate is not new, the scale and rate of change of online data has impacted the efficacy of traditional approaches to measure and understand this worrying trend. In this paper, we present a large-scale, quantitative study of online antisemitism. We collect hundreds of million comments and images from alt-right Web communities like 4chan’s Politically Incorrect board (/pol/) and the Twitter clone, Gab. Using scientifically grounded methods, we quantify the escalation and spread of antisemitic memes and rhetoric across the Web. We find the frequency of antisemitic content greatly increases (in some cases more than doubling) after major political events such as the 2016 US Presidential Election and the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Furthermore, this antisemitism appears in tandem with sharp increases in white ethnic nationalist content on the same communities. We extract semantic embeddings from our corpus of posts and demonstrate how automated techniques can discover and categorize the use of antisemitic terminology. We additionally examine the prevalence and spread of the antisemitic “Happy Merchant” meme, and in particular how these fringe communities influence its propagation to more mainstream services like Twitter and Reddit. Taken together, our results provide a data-driven, quantitative framework for understanding online antisemitism. Our open and scientifically grounded methods serve as a framework to augment current qualitative efforts by anti-hate groups, providing new insights into the growth and spread of antisemitism online.
A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram
2020 Guhl, J. and Davey, J. Report
The briefing highlights how through its limited content moderation policies Telegram has become a safe space for white supremacists to share and discuss a range of explicit extremist material. Furthermore, it shows that through the many of these Telegram communities have become permissive environments where overt calls for violence and support for terrorism is widespread. Much of the content which we have identified appears to breach Telegram’s terms of service which prohibit the promotion of violence, suggesting that the platform’s current enforcement of its policies is not effective.
A Semantic Graph-Based Approach for Radicalisation Detection on Social Media
2017 Saif, H., Dickinson, T., Kastler, L., Fernandez, M., and Alani, H. Article
From its start, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) has been successfully exploiting social media networks, most notoriously Twitter, to promote its propaganda and recruit new members, resulting in thousands of social media users adopting a pro-ISIS stance every year. Automatic identification of pro-ISIS users on social media has, thus, become the centre of interest for various governmental and research organisations. In this paper we propose a semantic graph-based approach for radicalisation detection on Twitter. Unlike previous works, which mainly rely on the lexical representation of the content published by Twitter users, our approach extracts and makes use of the underlying semantics of words exhibited by these users to identify their pro/anti-ISIS stances. Our results show that classifiers trained from semantic features outperform those trained from lexical, sentiment, topic and network features by 7.8% on average F1-measure.
A semi-supervised algorithm for detecting extremism propaganda diffusion on social media
2022 Francisco, M., Benítez-Castro, M.Á., Hidalgo-Tenorio, E. and Castro, J.L. Article
Extremist online networks reportedly tend to use Twitter and other Social Networking Sites (SNS) in order to issue propaganda and recruitment statements. Traditional machine learning models may encounter problems when used in such a context, due to the peculiarities of microblogging sites and the manner in which these networks interact (both between themselves and with other networks). Moreover, state-of-the-art approaches have focused on non-transparent techniques that cannot be audited; so, despite the fact that they are top performing techniques, it is impossible to check if the models are actually fair. In this paper, we present a semi-supervised methodology that uses our Discriminatory Expressions algorithm for feature selection to detect expressions that are biased towards extremist content (Francisco and Castro 2020). With the help of human experts, the relevant expressions are filtered and used to retrieve further extremist content in order to iteratively provide a set of relevant and accurate expressions. These discriminatory expressions have been proved to produce less complex models that are easier to comprehend, and thus improve model transparency. In the following, we present close to 70 expressions that were discovered by using this method alongside the validation test of the algorithm in several different contexts.
A Snapshot of the Syrian Jihadi Online Ecology: Differential Disruption, Community Strength, and Preferred Other Platforms
2021 Conway, M., Khawaja, M., Lakhani, S. and Reffin, J. Article
This article contributes to the growing literature on extremist and terrorist online ecologies and approaches to snapshotting these. It opens by measuring Twitter’s differential disruption of so-called “Islamic State” versus other jihadi parties to the Syria conflict, showing that while Twitter became increasingly inhospitable to IS in 2017 and 2018, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham retained strong communities on the platform during the same period. An analysis of the same groups’ Twitter out-linking activity has the twofold purpose of determining the reach of groups’ content by quantifying the number of platforms it was available on and analyzing the nature and functionalities of the online spaces out-linked to.
A Spatial Analysis Of Boko Haram And Al-Shabaab References In Social Media In Sub-Saharan Africa
2014 Rodriguez Jr., R.M. MA Thesis
This thesis describes the role that social media can play in showing how a terrorist organization can impact people’s conversation via Twitter. The two groups that this thesis focusses on are Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. We present a new approach to how we can look into how terrorist organization can be analyzed and see what kind of impacts they may have over different cultures. The process used in researching and writing this thesis is we conducted literature search of the social media phenomenon and what social media can provide. We look to build on research by using the social media phenomenon to find what types of impacts terrorist organizations may have over cultures along with seeing how a terrorist event can have an impact over people on social media. This thesis hopes to expand on previous research on the academic uses for social media, as well as add to the expanding role that social media can be used for intelligence purposes.
A Storm On The Horizon? 'Twister' And The Implications Of The Blockchain And Peer To Peer Social Networks For Online Violent Extremism
2018 Mott, G. Article
“Twister,” developed by Miguel Freitas, is a social network platform centered around micro-blogging, much like Twitter. However, rather than relying on centralized servers owned and maintained by a single firm, Twister users operate a block chain combined with distributed hash table (DHT)–like and BitTorrent-like protocols to both make posts and send private messages, and also to receive entries from other users. Twister’s raison d’etre is that it offers a social networking platform that cannot be censored and cannot itself censor. The software does not record the Internet Protocol addresses users use to access the service, nor does it notify other users of an account’s online/offline status. Growing adoption of block chain services means that it is possible that the concept of decentralized social networks could become a norm. It is suggested in this article that block chain-based peer-to-peer social networks present challenges to the current counterextremist practices for content removal and censorship. While there are methods to disrupt usage of blockchainbased peer-to-peer services, these approaches may have the net harm of curtailing bona fide use of legal and novel technologies. Given this opportunity cost, non-transitory online violent extremist content may need to be tolerated.
A Study Of Outlinks Contained In Tweets Monitoring Rumiya
2019 Macdonald, S., Grinnell, D., Kinzel A., and Lorenzo-Dus, A. Report
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.
A Survey on Automatic Detection of Hate Speech in Text
2018 Fortuna, P. and Nunes, S. Article
The scientific study of hate speech, from a computer science point of view, is recent. This survey organizes and describes the current state of the field, providing a structured overview of previous approaches, including core algorithms, methods, and main features used. This work also discusses the complexity of the concept of hate speech, defined in many platforms and contexts, and provides a unifying definition. This area has an unquestionable potential for societal impact, particularly in online communities and digital media platforms. The development and systematization of shared resources, such as guidelines, annotated datasets in multiple languages, and algorithms, is a crucial step in advancing the automatic detection of hate speech.
A survey on extremism analysis using natural language processing: definitions, literature review, trends and challenges
2022 Torregrosa, J., Bello-Orgaz, G., Martínez-Cámara, E., Ser, J.D. and Camacho, D. Article
Extremism has grown as a global problem for society in recent years, especially after the apparition of movements such as jihadism. This and other extremist groups have taken advantage of different approaches, such as the use of Social Media, to spread their ideology, promote their acts and recruit followers. The extremist discourse, therefore, is reflected on the language used by these groups. Natural language processing (NLP) provides a way of detecting this type of content, and several authors make use of it to describe and discriminate the discourse held by these groups, with the final objective of detecting and preventing its spread. Following this approach, this survey aims to review the contributions of NLP to the field of extremism research, providing the reader with a comprehensive picture of the state of the art of this research area. The content includes a first conceptualization of the term extremism, the elements that compose an extremist discourse and the differences with other terms. After that, a review description and comparison of the frequently used NLP techniques is presented, including how they were applied, the insights they provided, the most frequently used NLP software tools, descriptive and classification applications, and the availability of datasets and data sources for research. Finally, research questions are approached and answered with highlights from the review, while future trends, challenges and directions derived from these highlights are suggested towards stimulating further research in this exciting research area.
A Survey on Hate Speech Detection using Natural Language Processing
2017 Schmidt, A. and Wiegand, M. Article
This paper presents a survey on hate speech detection. Given the steadily growing body of social media content, the amount of online hate speech is also increasing. Due to the massive scale of the web, methods that automatically detect hate speech are required. Our survey describes key areas that have been explored to automatically recognize these types of utterances using natural language processing. We also discuss limits of those approaches.
A Systematic Examination of Terrorist Use of the Internet
2008 Freiburger,T. and Crane, J.S. Journal
The design of the Internet has made it an especially useful tool to terrorist groups. Using the Internet, terrorist groups have been especially successful in recruiting new members and exciting them into action. Previous works have provided comprehensive accounts of ways that terrorists use the Internet. This article expands on the understanding of this phenomenon by framing the previous works in a systematic model of terrorist’s use of the Internet through social learning theory. The article also offers counterterrorist strategies in accordance with the components of social learning.
A Tale Of Two Caliphates: Comparing the Islamic State's Internal and External Messaging Priorities
2018 Mahlouly, D., and Winter, C. VOX-Pol Publication
In recent years, the media department of the self-proclaimed Islamic State has proven itself to be highly adept at strategic communication. While much research has gone into the group’s digital and online capabilities, there remains a significant gap in the knowledge regarding its in-country propaganda operations and objectives. In recognition of this, the following research paper approaches the issue from a different angle, attempting to better understand how and why the group communicates its brand through the lens of two publications – al-Naba’, its Arabic-language newspaper, which appears to be designed primarily for offline dissemination in the caliphate itself, and Rumiyah, its foreign-language electronic magazine, which has only ever appeared online. Using content analysis to identify and compare each publication’s internal (local) and external (global) media priorities over the four-month period between September and December 2016, we develop an empirical evaluation of the group’s recent forays into targeted outreach.
A Typology of Lone Wolves: Preliminary Analysis of Lone Islamist Terrorists
2011 Pantucci, R. Report
The troublesome question of how and whether to consider what are commonly referred to as Lone Wolf terrorists within the broader roster of terrorist groups is something that has regularly confounded security analysts for a variety of reasons. This article attempts to create some sort of typology to start to define the group, with specific reference to the instances of Lone Wolves (or Lone Wolf Packs, an admittedly paradoxical choice of words that is defined in the article as small, isolated groups of individuals involved in terrorism) who claim to adhere to an extremist Islamist ideology. The article offers four subsets to the definition, drawing upon a detailed analysis of a variety of different plots in Europe and North America: Loner, Lone Wolf, Lone Wolf Pack, and Lone Attacker. The purpose of the article is to offer some preliminary thoughts on the issue of Lone Wolves, and start a process towards deeper understanding and closer analysis of the phenomenon. This is of particular salience given the frequency with which security analysts cite the phenomenon as a threat and the increasing way in which Al Qaeda ideologues refer to it.
A War of Keywords: How Extremists are Exploiting the Internet and What to do About It
2016 Ahmed, M. and George, FL. Report
This research centred on three layers of analysis: Firstly, understanding
the keywords, or search terms, people use to
find information on Google; secondly, looking at the data
demonstrating links going into a selection of known extremist
websites in order to understand their relationships
with other websites;
and thirdly, analysing the content of
Google search results pages to understand the placement of extremist and counter-narrative content within search results for relevant keywords. The areas of analysis represent
important aspects related to the broader internet and,
when combined, gave the opportunity to get a snapshot of
extremist content beyond the realm of social media.

The results produced by this multi-faceted approach provide
an overview of extremist content online and shed
much-needed light on the impact and effectiveness of online
counter-narrative efforts.
A “Europe des Nations”: far right imaginative geographies and the politicization of cultural crisis on Twitter in Western Europe
2020 Ganesh, B. and Froio, C. Article
Contestation over European integration has been widely studied in the rhetoric of parties, leaders, and movements on the far right in a variety of media. Focusing on Twitter use by far right actors in Western Europe, we apply corpus-aided discourse analysis to explore how imaginative geographies are used to politicize Europe among their digital publics. We find that the idea of a crisis of cultural identity pervades imaginaries of Europe amongst far right digital publics. While Europe is presented as facing a crisis of cultural identity, we find that the far right articulates an aspirational imaginary of Europe, the ‘Europe des Nations’ that rejects liberal-democratic pluralism in the EU and the ‘establishment’. We find that the contestation of Europe in far right digital publics relies on a crisis of cultural identity, representing a translation of Nouvelle Droite imaginaries of Europe into the social media space.