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
Daesh Propaganda, Before and After its Collapse: Countering Violent Extremism
2019 Winter, C. Report
This report compares two archives of official Daesh media that were compiled four years apart. It explores the nuances of the group’s worldview and tracks how external and internal situational exigencies impacted them during its formative years as a caliphate. It finds that the organisation’s media infrastructure was about one tenth as productive in mid-2019 as it was in mid-2015. The data also show that it was spending more time covering the pursuits of its global network in 2019 than in 2015. Finally, the data point towards a substantial thematic rearrangement in the organisation’s overarching propaganda narrative that manifested in it shifting its story away from millenarian utopianism and towards military denialism. In sum, the data indicate that by 2019 Daesh’s propagandists were far less productive and their aggregate product was more international and less focused on civilian issues. This shift points towards a new phase in the group’s political marketing trajectory, one focused more on survival than on expansion.
Jihadist Online Communication and Finland
2019 Malkki, L. and Pohjonen, M. Report
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.
‘The Baghdadi Net’: How A Network of ISIL-Supporting Accounts Spread Across Twitter
2019 Ayad, M. Report
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIL) supporters fanned out large amounts of Arabic content across Twitter all through the week in the wake of the news surrounding the death of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Many accounts were exhibiting strong and multiple signals of automated behavior1, spawning every hour, on the hour, and Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) researchers monitored and tracked these accounts, and their tactics for the past week following the news. Twitter, and accounts specifically designed to report ISIL activity, were limiting some of the effects of what researchers were calling the ‘Baghdadi Net.’ However, it was clear the accounts were able to generate again, sometimes seconds within a takedown period, and spread video, and audio, as well as new ISIL-news content. Many accounts used western avatars, linked to real people, as well as hashtags that were trending across the Middle East and North Africa, including those being used in the Iraq and Lebanon protests. Latching on to trending topics is a well-documented tactic by ISIL and other groups to increase impressions and overall reach of content. As of Friday, the accounts were tweeting out audio content produced by al Furqan media heralding the ascension of the new ISIL leader Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al Qurashi.
Antisemitismus 2.0 und die Netzkultur des Hasses
2018 Schwarz-Friesel, M Report
Judenfeindschaft als kulturelle Konstante und kollektiver Gefühlswert im digitalen Zeitalter (Kurzfassung) In welchen Manifestationen tritt Antisemitismus im 21. Jahrhundert in Erscheinung? Wie, wo und von wem werden judenfeindliche Inhalte artikuliert und verbreitet? Welche Stereotype werden kodiert, welche Argumente benutzt? Welche Rolle spielen Emotionen und irrationale Affektlogik beim aktuellen Einstellungs- und Verbalantisemitismus? Inwiefern hat das Internet die Verbreitung und Intensivierung von Antisemitismen akzeleriert und forciert? Wie lassen sich die modernen Ausprägungen des Judenhasses wissenschaftlich beschreiben, einordnen und erklären? Die vorliegende Langzeitstudie im Rahmen der empirischen Antisemitismusforschung zur Artikulation, Tradierung, Verbreitung und Manifestation von Judenhass im Internet hat sich mit diesen Fragen beschäftigt und quantitativ umfangreiche sowie inhaltlich detaillierte Untersuchungen vorgenommen.
Self-regulation and ‘hate speech’ on social media platforms
2018 Free Word Centre Report
In this brief, ARTICLE 19 seeks to contribute to discussions on greater regulation of social media platforms, including calls for such platforms to be considered publishers. We do so by exploring a possible model for the independent and effective self regulation of social media platforms.

ARTICLE 19 recognises that dominant social media companies hold considerable power over the flow of information and ideas online, given the vast quantities of content published on their platforms. The way in which social media companies have dealt with content issues on their platforms, especially around ‘hate speech’, has been of particular concern to many stakeholders. Under international standards on freedom of expression, however, it is a fairly complex task to decide whether a specific message can be identified as unlawful ‘hate speech’, and, as such, whether it should or could legitimately be prohibited. More generally, any restriction on freedom of expression, whatever the objective it seeks to achieve, necessarily raises a series of legal questions.
Virtual Plotters. Drones. Weaponized AI?: Violent Non-State Actors as Deadly Early Adopters
2019 Gartenstein-Ross, D., Shear, M. and Jones, D. Report
Over the past decade, violent non-state actors’ (VNSAs) adoption of new technologies that can help their operations have tended to follow a recognizable general pattern, which this study dubs the VNSA technology adoption curve: As a consumer technology becomes widely available, VNSAs find ways to adapt it to their deadly purposes. This curve tends to progress in four stages:

1. Early Adoption – The VNSA tries to adopt a new technology, and disproportionately underperforms or fails in definable ways.
2. Iteration – The consumer technology that the VNSA is attempting to repurpose undergoes improvements driven by the companies that brought the technology to market. These improvements are designed to enhance consumers’ experience and the utility that consumers derive from the technology. The improvements help the intended end user, but also aid the VNSA, which iterates alongside the company.
3. Breakthrough – During this stage, the VNSA’s success rate with the new technology significantly improves.
4. Competition – Following the VNSA’s seemingly sudden success, technology companies, state actors, and other stakeholders develop countermeasures designed to mitigate the VNSA’s exploitation of the technology. The outcome of this phase is uncertain, as both the VNSA and its competitors enter relatively uncharted territory in the current technological environment. The authorities and VNSA will try to stay one step ahead of one another.

This report begins by explaining the adoption curve, and more broadly the manner in which VNSAs engage in organizational learning. The report then details two critical case studies of past VNSA technological adoption to illustrate how the adoption curve works in practice, and to inform our analysis of VNSA technological adoptions that are likely in the future.
Hatred Behind the Screens - A Report on the Rise of Online Hate Speech
2019 Williams, M. and de Reya, M. Report
— The reporting, recording and incidence of online hate speech has increased over the past two years.
— While the number of people personally targeted remains relatively low, large numbers of people are being exposed to online hate speech, potentially causing decreased life satisfaction. In particular, an increasingly large number of UK children (aged 12-15) report that they are exposed to hateful content online.
— Online hate speech tends to spike for 24-48 hours after key national or international events such as a terror attack, and then rapidly fall, although the baseline of online hate can remain elevated for several months. Where it reaches a certain level, online hate speech can translate into offline hate crime on the streets.
— Hate crime, including hate speech, is both hard to define and hard to prosecute. A patchwork of hate crime laws has developed over the last two decades, but there is concern the laws are not as effective as they could be, and may need to be streamlined and/or extended - for example to cover gender and age-related hate crime. The Law Commission is currently reviewing hate crime legislation, and has separately completed a preliminary review of the criminal law in relation to offensive
and abusive online communications, concluding there was "considerable scope for reform".
— According to a recent survey by Demos, the public appreciates the difficult trade-off between tackling hate crime and protecting freedom of speech, with 32% in favour of a safety first approach, 23% in favour of protecting civil liberties, and 42% not favouring either option.
Right-Wing Extremists’ Persistent Online Presence: History and Contemporary Trends
2019 Conway, M., Scrivens, R. and Macnair, L. Report
This policy brief traces how Western right-wing extremists have exploited the power of the internet from early dial-up bulletin board systems to contemporary social media and messaging apps. It demonstrates how the extreme right has been quick to adopt a variety of emerging online tools, not only to connect with the like-minded, but to radicalise some audiences while intimidating others, and ultimately to recruit new members, some of whom have engaged in hate crimes and/or terrorism. Highlighted throughout is the fast pace of change of both the internet and its associated platforms and technologies, on the one hand, and the extreme right, on the other, as well as how these have interacted and evolved over time. Underlined too is the persistence, despite these changes, of rightwing extremists’ online presence, which poses challenges for effectively responding to this activity moving forward.
Digital Jihad: Online Communication and Violent Extremism
2019 Marone, F. (Ed.) Report
The internet offers tremendous opportunities for violent extremists across the ideological spectrum and at a global level. In addition to propaganda, digital technologies have transformed the dynamics of radical mobilisation, recruitment and participation. Even though the jihadist threat has seemingly declined in the West, the danger exists of the internet being an environment where radical messages can survive and even prosper. Against this background, this ISPI report investigates the current landscape of jihadist online communication, including original empirical analysis. Specific attention is also placed on potential measures and initiatives to address the threat of online violent extremism. The volume aims to present important points for reflection on the phenomenon in the West (including Italy) and beyond.
Terrorism, Violent Extremism, and the Internet: Free Speech Considerations
2019 Killion, V. L. Report
Recent acts of terrorism and hate crimes have prompted a renewed focus on the possible links between internet content and offline violence. While some have focused on the role that social media companies play in moderating user-generated content, others have called for Congress to pass laws regulating online content promoting terrorism or violence. Proposals related to government action of this nature raise significant free speech questions, including (1) the reach of the First Amendment’s protections when it comes to foreign nationals posting online content from abroad; (2) the scope of so-called “unprotected” categories of speech developed long before the advent of the internet; and (3) the judicial standards that limit how the government can craft or enforce laws to preserve national security and prevent violence.
Tackling Insurgent Ideologies 2.0: Rapporteurs' Report
2020 Observer Research Foundation Report
As the global political barometer increasingly shifts towards insularity, protectionism and propaganda-driven populism across countries, the CVE community is faced with a varied set of challenges. Whether it is on the question of dealing with returning ISIS FTFs, and preventing their move to different geographical theatres; or combatting majoritarian groups that rally around grievances, race or religion and fuel extreme violence—we need to ask ourselves how much more vulnerable we are today, and identify where the fault lines lie. While addressing these challenges, it is equally necessary to ensure that the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are balanced as governments address security priorities. It is with the desire to see more global conversation on the manifold ideologies that drive violence and the responsibility of governments, platforms and civil society engaged in CVE initiatives that the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) organised the second iteration of Tackling Insurgent Ideologies, with the theme “Implementing the Christchurch Call: Towards a Global CVE Agenda.” We brought together a diverse group of policymakers, researchers and practitioners involved in the process of developing strategies that deal with the proliferation of radicalism and violence to debate and discuss best practices, learnings and a way forward.
Toxic Narratives: Monitoring Alternative-right Actors
2017 Baldauf, J., Dittrich, M., Hermann, M., Kollberg, B., Lüdecke, R. and Rathje, J. Report
Why do we use the term “toxic narrative”? The concept of “toxic communication” has been established in the English-speaking world since the 1960s. The term has also been borrowed in Germany to refer to linguistic behavior that has a negative influence on its environment. When we speak of toxic narratives, we are referring to accounts of the world that supply the pertinent “events” and interpretations for such communication.

It is necessary to process such narratives – decoding them, examining their core content and classifying them – in order to respond to them cogently and successfully. The present report is intended to make a contribution to this effort.
Disrupting the Digital Divide: Extremism's Integration of Online / Offline Practice
2019 Mattheis, A. Report
In its offline aspect the broader right-wing movement is comprised of a range of groups and idealogical variances that have traditionally had difficulty coalescing into a coherent movement with broad appeal. In its online aspect, right-wing extremist practice is focused on spreading ideaology, recruiting and radicalization, and building transnational communities.
"Pine Tree" Twitter and the Shifting Ideological Foundations of Eco-Extremism
2019 Hughes, B. Report
Eco-fascism is emerging at both the highest levels of state and the lowest reaches of the political underworld. However, this may be only part of a much larger, more idealogically complex, emerging extremist threat. The climate crisis--and the crisis of global financial capitalism from which it is inextricable--may yet be driving a realignment of extremist environmental politics. An exploratory analysis of radical environmentalist discourse on the Twitter platform reveals the emergence of an ecological extremism that confounds contemporary understandings of the left, right, authoritarian and liberal. If this represents the future of eco-extremism, it may be necessary for researchers and practitioners to reorient the frameworks that guide their assessment of emerging risks.
This is Not a Game: How Steam Harbors Extremists
2020 Anti-Defamation League Report
Steam, the largest and most important online store for PC gamers with over $4 Billion in revenue in 2017, has recently gained popularity among white supremacists for being a platform, like Gab and Telegram, where they can openly express their ideology and calls for violence. The difference between Steam and social media platforms like Telegram or Gab is that while the latter do not share a formal business relationship with the wider social media industry, Steam has direct and lucrative relationships with most major game companies, including 2K, Electronic Arts, Xbox Game Studios, Ubisoft and others. Many of these game companies have made public statements about and dedicated significant resources towards keeping their products safe from the kinds of hateful ideologies espoused by extremists -- while continuing to work with Steam.
Counterterrorism Yearbook 2020
2020 Kfir, I. and Coyne, J. (Eds.) Report
This year’s Counterterrorism Yearbook draws upon 19 contributing authors, each a renowned thought leader in their field, to promote practical counterterrorism solutions by reviewing a global range of terrorism developments and counterterrorism responses. ASIO’s Director General, Mike Burgess commends the publication for its ‘valuable contribution to the public discourse on counterterrorism’. While maintaining its geographic focus, the Yearbook now includes thematic chapters on mental health, strategic policing, the media, the terror–crime nexus and terrorist innovation. These new thematic chapters have been included to encourage governments to consider more proactive CT agendas that move beyond the current focus on disrupting plots and discouraging people from joining and supporting terrorist groups. The focus here has been on promoting new thinking on how to deal with emergent areas of concern, such as comorbidity of mental health, use of gaming platforms, and artificial intelligence.
Countering Terrorist Narratives Online and Offline
2020 United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate Report
The present Analytical Brief was prepared by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in accordance with Security Council resolution 2395 (2017), which directs CTED to conduct analytical work on emerging issues, trends and developments and to make its analytical products available throughout the United Nations system.

Terrorist groups have always sought to radicalize others (especially young people) to violence. However, over the past decade, their propaganda and radicalization efforts have occurred at greater speed and with a bigger range, a process facilitated by the fastest, broadest expansion of mass communications in human history. As a consequence, Member States have been forced to expand their efforts to combat terrorist communications beyond merely blocking or removing online terrorist propaganda and have increasingly emphasized countering terrorist narratives. In May 2017, the Security Council adopted its resolution 2354 (2017), which welcomed the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s “Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives.” In accordance with the Framework, Member States and other stakeholders should not only emphasize terrorists’ inhumanity and the flaws in their arguments, but also develop positive or alternative narratives that promote a holistic worldview and encourage non-violent pathways to address grievances and feelings of powerlessness and alienation.
Hosting Hate
2018 HOPE not hate Report
Extreme online content from far-right organisations, including the website of a banned terrorist group, is accessible via hardware based in the UK, potentially in breach of the law, and in contrast with Theresa May’s call for technology companies to act to remove terrorist content from their platforms.
Cyber Swarming, Memetic Warfare and Viral Insurgency: How Domestic Militants Organize on Memes to Incite Violent Insurrection and Terror Against Government and Law Enforcement
2020 Goldenberg, A. and Finkelstein, J. Report
In this briefing, we document a recently formed apocalyptic militia ideology which, through the use of memes—coded inside jokes conveyed by image or text—advocates extreme violence against law enforcement and government officials. Termed the 'boogaloo', this ideology self-organizes across social media communities, boasts tens of thousands of users, exhibits a complex division of labor, evolves well-developed channels to innovate and distribute violent propaganda, deploys a complex communication network on extremist, mainstream and dark Web communities, and articulates a hybrid structure between lone-wolf and cell-like organization. Like a virus which awakens from dormancy, this meme has emerged with startling speed in merely the last 3–4 months.
Bots, Fake News and The Anti-Muslim Message on Social Media
2018 HOPE not hate Report
• In this report, we show how recent terror attacks in the UK have been successfully exploited by anti-Muslim activists over social media, to increase their reach and grow their audiences.
• Monitoring key anti-Muslim social media accounts and their networks, we show how even small events are amplified through an international network of activists.
• We also provide concrete evidence of a leading anti-Muslim activist whose message is hugely amplified by the use of a 100+ strong ‘bot army’.
• The global reach, low price and lack of regulation on social media platforms presents new possibilities for independent, single issue and extremist viewpoints to gain significant audiences.
• We delve into the murky and secretive world of the dark web to explore just what tools are available for manipulating social media and show how easy it is to make use of these tactics even for non-tech savvy users.
• Through testing, we conclude that even cheaply inflating one’s number of followers has an effect on the ability to reach a larger audience.
• We situate these developments in the context of increasing hostility towards Muslims and immigration in the Europe and the US.
• “Trigger events” such as terror attacks, and other events that reflect badly on Muslims and Islam, cause both an increase in anti-Muslim hate on the street and, as we will show, also online.