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
Briefing Note ‘El Rubio’ Lives: The Challenge Of Arabic Language Extremist Content On Social Media Platforms
2019 Ayad, M. Report
This briefing outlines research uncovering thousands of users viewing extremist content in Arabic language across mainstream social platforms including Facebook and YouTube. The findings emerged as world leaders, policymakers, and technology companies gathered in Jordan earlier this month to discuss counter-terrorism and extremism as part of the Aqaba Process and the convening of the Global Internet Forum for Countering Terrorism (GIFCT).

Researchers identified:

• More than 77 pieces of Arabic content promoting influential Islamist extremists from al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as well as affiliates for both organizations, and precursors to both groups on both YouTube and Facebook;
• More than 275,000 users have watched the videos on both Facebook and YouTube;
• The research finds evidence of Islamist extremist supporters sharing content between sites, spreading the content further than their primary YouTube Channels and/or Facebook pages and groups. Approximately 138 individual users have shared links from the YouTube to their networks on Facebook.
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
The Report you are about to read, “Cyber Swarming: Memetic Warfare and Viral Insurgency,” represents a breakthrough case study in the capacity to identify cyber swarms and viral insurgencies in nearly real time as they are developing in plain sight. The result of an analysis of over 100 million social media comments, the authors demonstrate how the “boogaloo meme,” “a joke for some, acts as a violent meme that circulates instructions for a violent, viral insurgency for others.” Using it, like turning off the transponders on 9/11, enables the extremists to hide in plain sight, disappearing into the clutter of innocent messages, other data points. It should be of particular concern, the authors note, for the military, for whom “the meme’s emphasis on military language and culture poses a special risk.”

Because most of law enforcement and the military remain ignorant of “memetic warfare,” the authors demonstrate, extremists who employ it “possess a distinct advantage over government officials and law enforcement.” As with the 9/11 terrorists, “they already realize that they are at war. Public servants cannot afford to remain ignorant of this subject because as sites, followers, and activists grow in number, memes can reach a critical threshold and tipping point, beyond which they can suddenly saturate and mainstream across entire cultures.” This Report is at once an urgent call to recognize an emerging threat and a prescription for how to counter it. As such, it offers that rarest of opportunities: the chance to stop history from repeating itself.
Counterterrorism is a Public Function: Resetting the Balance Between Public and Private Sectors in Preventing Terrorist use of the Internet
2019 Guittard, A. Report
This paper, part of the Legal Perspectives on Tech Series, was commissioned in conjunction with the Congressional Counterterrorism Caucus.
Daesh Propaganda, Before and After its Collapse
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.
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.
Leveraging CDA 230 to Counter Online Extremism
2019 Bridy, A. M. Report
This paper, part of the Legal Perspectives on Tech Series, was commissioned in conjunction with the Congressional Counterterrorism Caucus.
Three Constitutional Thickets: Why Regulating Online Violent Extremism is Hard
2019 Keller, D. Report
In this paper, I review U.S. constitutional considerations for lawmakers seeking to balance terrorist threats against free expression online. The point is not to advocate for any particular rule. In particular, I do not seek to answer moral or norms-based questions about what content Internet platforms should take down. I do, however, note the serious tensions between calls for platforms to remove horrific but First Amendment-protected extremist content – a category that probably includes the Christchurch shooter’s video – and calls for them to function as “public squares” by leaving up any speech the First Amendment permits. To lay out the issue, I draw on analysis developed at greater length in previous publications. This analysis concerns large user-facing platforms like Facebook and Google, and the word “platform” as used here refers to those large companies, not their smaller counterparts.
Lessons from the Information War: Applying Effective Technological Solutions to the Problems of Online Disinformation and Propaganda
2019 Maddox, J. D. Report
This paper, part of the Legal Perspectives on Tech Series, was commissioned in conjunction with the Congressional Counterterrorism Caucus.
Social Media, Terrorist Content Prohibitions, And The Rule Of Law
2019 MacDonald, S. Report
To inform the discussion, the paper draws on the debates that have surrounded the U.K. ‘Encouragement of Terrorism’ criminal offence. Created by the Terrorism Act 2006, and recently amended by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, this offence has proved controversial from its inception for two principal reasons. First, the offence expressly encompasses both direct and indirect encouragement. Critics have argued that the concept of indirect encouragement is too nebulous and gives the offence too wide a scope. Second, the framing of the offence focuses not on the purpose of the speaker, but on whether the potential effect of the statement is to encourage terrorism.
EU Policy - Preventing The Dissemination Of Terrorist Content Online
2019 Krasenberg, J. Report
The use of the internet for recruitment and the dissemination of violent extremist materials raises significant policy challenges for the European Union (EU), its Member States, and content sharing platforms (CSPs) 1 alike. This problem requires – through the eyes of the EU – a combination of legislative, non-legislative, and voluntary measures based on collaboration between authorities and CSPs with respect for fundamental (human) rights.
Disinformation In Terrorist Content Online
2019 Jankowicz, N. Report
This paper, part of the Legal Perspectives on Tech Series, was commissioned in conjunction with the Congressional Counterterrorism Caucus.
Unraveling The Impact Of Social Media On Extremism: Implications for Technology Regulation and Terrorism Prevention
2019 Susarla, A. Report
Social media has been remarkably effective in bringing together groups of individuals at a scale and speed unthinkable just a few years ago. While there is a positive aspect of digital activism in raising awareness and mobilizing for equitable societal outcomes, it is equally true that social media has a dark side in enabling political polarization and radicalization. This paper highlights that algorithmic bias and algorithmic manipulation accentuate these developments. We review some of the key technological aspects of social media and its impact on society, while also outlining remedies and implications for regulation. For the purpose of this paper we will define a digital platform as a technology intermediary that enables interaction between groups of users (such as Amazon or Google) and a social media platform as a digital platform for social media.
Fighting Hate Speech And Terrorist Propaganda On Social Media In Germany
2019 Ritzmann, A. Report
Lessons learned after one year of the NetzDG law.
The Internet Police
2019 Breinholt, J. Report
This paper, part of the Legal Perspectives on Tech Series, was commissioned in conjunction with the Congressional Counterterrorism Caucus.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the freedom of opinion and expression
2019 United Nations Report
The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General Assembly the report prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 34/18. In this report, the Special Rapporteur evaluates the human rights law that applies to the regulation of online ‘hate speech’.
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.