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
Defining Online Hate And Its Public Lives: What Is The Place For Extreme Speech?
2019 Gagliardone, I. Article
Following Sahana Udupa and Matti Pohjonen’s (2019) invitation to move the debate beyond a normative understanding of hate speech, this article seeks to build a foundation for conceptual and empirical inquiry of speech commonly considered deviant and disturbing. It develops in three stages. It first maps the public lives of terms that refer to online vitriol and how they have been used by different communities of researchers, politicians, advocacy groups, and national organizations. Second, it shows how different types of “haters” have been interpreted as parts of “swarms” or “armies,” depending on whether their violent potential emerges around critical incidents or whether they respond to longer-term strategies through which communities and their leaders tie their speech acts to explicit narratives. The article concludes by locating “extreme speech” within this broader conceptual tapestry, arguing that the paternalistic the gaze that characterizes a lot of research on online hate speech is tied to what Chantal Mouffe has referred to as the “moralization of politics,” a phenomenon that cannot be matched by responses that are themselves moral.
A Comparative Approach To Social Media Extreme Speech: Online Hate Speech As Media Commentary
2019 Pohjonen, M. Article
By exploring lessons learned from Ethiopia and Finland, this article challenges two assumptions about online hate speech research. First, it challenges the assumption that the best way to understand controversial concepts such as online hate speech is to determine how closely they represent or mirror some underlying set of facts or state of affairs online or in social media. Second, it challenges the assumption that academic research should be seen as separate from the many controversies that surround online hate speech debates globally. In its place, the article proposes the theory of “commentary” as a comparative research framework aimed at explaining how the messy and complex world of online and social media practices is articulated as hate speech over other ways of imagining this growing problem in global digital media environments.
Nationalism In The Digital Age: Fun As A Metapractice Of Extreme Speech
2019 Udupa, S. Article
Critical assessments of the recent resurgence of right-wing nationalism have rightly highlighted the role of social media in these troubling times, yet they are constrained by an overemphasis on celebrity leaders defined as populists. This article departs from a leader-centric analysis and the liberal frame that still largely informs the assessment of political action, to foreground “fun” as a salient aspect of right-wing mobilization. Building on ethnographic fieldwork among the Hindu nationalists in India, I argue that fun is a meta practice that shapes the interlinked practices of fact-checking, abuse, assembly and aggression among online volunteers for the right-wing movement. Furthermore, fun remains crucial for an experience of absolute autonomy among online users in ideological battles. Providing the daily drip feed for exclusion, fun as a meta practice bears a formal similarity to objectivity in its performative effects of distance and deniability.
Writing On The Walls: Discourses On Bolivian Immigrants In Chilean Meme Humor
2019 Haynes, N. Article
Internet memes have become a popular form through which northern Chileans express frustrations with their marginalization on global, national, and local levels. At the same time, many of these memes criticize Bolivian immigrants for using resources and taking jobs from “true Chileans.” The humorous nature of these texts mitigates the extremity of embedded racial and nationalist ideologies, which are more explicitly expressed in political speech, news media, and quotidian language. This article uses critical discourse analysis to trace ideological formations across multiple online and offline instantiations, making visible a continuum of extreme speech. Through these connections, we see how anti-immigrant discourses position northern residents in a formation of nested marginality. Memes are thus a central way that disenfranchised Chilean citizens reinforce a worldview in which they consider themselves deserving of greater access to resources than Bolivians, precisely because of their marginalized position in relation to the nation.
Ritualized Opposition In Danish Online Practices Of Extremist Language And Thought
2019 Hervik, P. Article
This article looks at extreme speech practices in Danish weblogs and Facebook comment threads that treat issues of refugees, migration, Islam, and opponents as a cultural war of values and conflict. The article highlights the ritualized ways in which anti-immigrant sentiments are being communicated, received, and responded to. Such recurrent ritualistic communicative patterns include the use of a distinct indignant tone, sarcasm, racialized reasoning, and the use of “high-fives,” as well as a general indifference to facts. The article argues that these online speech patterns can best be understood as a form of “ritualized opposition” that relies on extremist, divisive use of language and naturalization of racialized difference in its attempt to recruit and consolidate communities of support.
Challenging Extremist Views on Social: Media Developing a Counter-Messaging Response
2019 Eerten, J. van and Doosje, B. Book
This book is a timely and significant examination of the role of counter-messaging via social media as a potential means of preventing or countering radicalization to violent extremism. In recent years, extremist groups have developed increasingly sophisticated online communication strategies to spread their propaganda and promote their cause, enabling messages to be spread more rapidly and effectively. Countermessaging has been promoted as one of the most important measures to neutralize online radicalizing influences and is intended to undermine the appeal of messages disseminated by violent extremist groups. While many such initiatives have been launched by Western governments, civil society actors, and private companies, there are many questions regarding their efficacy. Focusing predominantly on efforts countering Salafi-Jihadi extremism, this book examines how feasible it is to prevent or counter radicalization and violent extremism with counter-messaging efforts. It investigates important principles to consider when devising such a program. The authors provide both a comprehensive theoretical overview and a review of the available literature, as well as policy recommendations for governments and the role they can play in counter-narrative efforts. As this is the first book to critically examine the possibilities and pitfalls of using counter-messaging to prevent radicalization or stimulate de-radicalization, it is essential reading for policymakers and professionals dealing with this issue, as well as researchers in the field.
Caught In The Net: The Impact Of "Extremist" Speech Regulations On Human Rights Content
2019 Jaloud, A. R. A., Al Khatib, K., Deutch, J., Kayyali, D. and York, J. C. Report
Social media companies have long struggled with what to do about extremist content on their platforms. While most companies include provisions about “extremist” content in their community standards, until recently, such content was often vaguely defined, providing policymakers and content moderators a wide berth in determining what to remove, and what to allow. Unfortunately, companies have responded with overbroad and vague policies and practices that have led to mistakes at scale that are decimating human rights content.
The Conflict In Jammu And Kashmir And The Convergence Of Technology And Terrorism
2019 Taneja, K. and Shah, K. M. Report
This paper provides recommendations for what government and social media companies can do in the context of Jammu and Kashmir’s developing online theatre of both potential radicalisation and recruitment
Detection And Classification Of Social Media Based Extremist Affiliations Using Sentiment Analysis Techniques
2019 Ahmad, S., Asghar, M. Z., Alotaibi, F. M. and Awan, I. Article
Identification and classification of extremist-related tweets is a hot issue. Extremist gangs have been involved in using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for propagating their ideology and recruitment of individuals. This work aims at proposing a terrorism-related content analysis framework with the focus on classifying tweets into extremist and non-extremist classes. Based on user-generated social media posts on Twitter, we develop a tweet classifcation system using deep learning-based sentiment analysis techniques to classify the tweets as extremist or non-extremist. The experimental results are encouraging and provide a gateway for future researchers.
Design And Control Of Resilient Interconnected Microgrids For Reliable Mass Transit Systems
2019 Egan, T. J. G. MA Thesis
Mass transit systems are relied on a daily basis to transport millions of passengers and bring billions of dollars' worth of economic goods to market. While some forms of mass transit rely on a fuel, electrified railway systems are dependent on the electric grid. The electric grid is becoming more vulnerable to disruptions, due to extreme weather, changing supply and demand patterns, and cyber-terrorism. An interruption to the energy supply of a railway infrastructure can have cascading effects on the economy and social livelihood. Resilient interconnected microgrids are proposed to maintain reliable operation of electri_ed railway infrastructures. An engineering design framework, and supporting methods and techniques, is proposed for an electrified railway infrastructure to be upgraded from its existing form, to one with resilient interconnected microgrids. The sizing of the interconnected microgrids is performed using an iterative sizing analysis, considering multiple resiliency key performance indicators to inform the designer of the trade-o_s in sizing options. Hierarchical control is proposed to monitor and control the interconnected microgrids. A multi-objective problem cast in the tertiary level of control is proposed to be solved using game theory. The proposed designs are modelled and simulated in Simulink. Four case studies of railway infrastructures in Canada and the United Kingdom are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed designs. While results for each case study vary, resilient interconnected microgrids for railway infrastructures demonstrates a reduced dependence on the electric grid. The examples here are all scalable and can perform within the framework of any available energy system. The results are both extremely impressive and promising towards a more resilient and stable energy future for our railway and other critical infrastructures.
Call Of Duty Jihad: How The Video Game Motif Has Migrated Downstream From Islamic State Propaganda Videos
2019 Dauber, C. E., Robinson, M. D., Baslious, J. J. and Blair, A. G. Article
From a technical standpoint, Islamic State (IS) videos are demonstrably superior to those of other groups. But as time goes by, their aesthetic is migrating downstream as other groups attempt to copy it. Specifically, IS has turned to video games, regularly mimicking and even directly copying the aesthetic and design of First Person Shooter games, most often Call of Duty, in their videos, and other groups have followed suit. This specific aesthetic offers a way to recruit young, technologically savvy, men while sanitizing the violence they were being recruited to participate in. This study offers an instrument for tracking the IS aesthetic as it moves to other groups as well as its evolution over time, and offers a case study of a specific group that has copied the IS aesthetic, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS.)
Social Media and Terrorist Financing: What are the Vulnerabilities and How Could Public and Private Sectors Collaborate Better?
2019 Keatinge, T. and Keen, F. Report
• Social media companies should recognise the political importance of counterterrorist financing (CTF) by explicitly reflecting the priorities of the UN Security Council and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in their policies, strategies and transparency reports.
• Furthermore, social media companies identified as being at high risk of exploitation should update their terms of service and community standards to explicitly reference and outlaw terrorist financing (consistent with universally applicable international law and standards such as those of the FATF) and actions that contravene related UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions.
• Social media companies should clearly demonstrate that they understand and apply appropriate sanctions designations; at the same time, policymakers should ensure that sanctions designations include, where possible, information such as email addresses, IP addresses and social media handles that can support sanctions implementation by social media companies. The more granular the information provided by governments on designated entities, the more efficiently the private sector can comply with sanctions designations.
• Social media companies should more tightly control functionality to ensure that raising terrorist funding through social media videos, such as big-brand advertising and Super Chat payments, is disabled.
• Researchers and policymakers should avoid generalisations and make a clear distinction between forms of social media and the various terrorist-financing vulnerabilities that they pose, recognising the different types of platforms available, and the varied ways in which terrorist financiers could abuse them.
• Policymakers should encourage both inter-agency and cross-border collaboration on the threat of using social media for terrorist financing, ensuring that agencies involved are equipped with necessary social media investigative capabilities.
• International law enforcement agencies such as Interpol and Europol should facilitate the development of new investigation and prosecution standard operating procedures for engaging with operators of servers and cloud services based in overseas jurisdictions to ensure that necessary evidence can be gathered in a timely fashion. This would also encourage an internationally harmonised approach to using social media as financial intelligence.
• Policymakers should encourage the building of new, and leveraging of existing, public–private partnerships to ensure social media company CTF efforts are informed and effective.
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.
Understanding The Expression Of Grievances In The Arabic Twitter-sphere Using Machine Learning
2019 Al-Saggaf, Y. and Davies, A. Article
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the design, application and findings of a case study in which the application of a machine learning algorithm is utilised to identify the grievances in Twitter in an Arabian context. To understand the characteristics of the Twitter users who expressed the identified grievances, data mining techniques and social network analysis were utilised. The study extracted a total of 23,363 tweets and these were stored as a data set. The machine learning algorithm applied to this data set was followed by utilising a data mining process to explore the characteristics of the Twitter feed users. The network of the users was mapped and the individual level of interactivity and network density were calculated. Findings The machine learning algorithm revealed 12 themes all of which were underpinned by the coalition of Arab countries blockade of Qatar. The data mining analysis revealed that the tweets could be clustered in three clusters, the main cluster included users with a large number of followers and friends but who did not mention other users in their tweets. The social network analysis revealed that whilst a large proportion of users engaged in direct messages with others, the network ties between them were not registered as strong. Borum (2011) notes that invoking grievances is the first step in the radicalisation process. It is hoped that by understanding these grievances, the study will shed light on what radical groups could invoke to win the sympathy of aggrieved people. In combination, the machine learning algorithm offered insights into the grievances expressed within the tweets in an Arabian context. The data mining and the social network analyses revealed the characteristics of the Twitter users highlighting identifying and managing early intervention of radicalisation.
Online Terrorist Propaganda, Recruitment, and Radicalization
2019 Vacca, J. R. Book
Online Terrorist Propaganda, Recruitment, and Radicalization is most complete treatment of the rapidly growing phenomenon of how terrorists' online presence is utilized for terrorism funding, communication, and recruitment purposes. The book offers an in-depth coverage of the history and development of online "footprints" to target new converts, broaden their messaging, and increase their influence. Chapters present the emergence of various groups; the advancement of terrorist groups' online presences; their utilization of video, chat room, and social media; and the current capability for propaganda, training, and recruitment.

With contributions from leading experts in the field-including practitioners and terrorism researchers-the coverage moves from general factors to specific groups practices as relate to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and numerous other groups. Chapters also examine the lone wolf phenomenon as a part of the disturbing trend of self-radicalization. A functional, real-world approach is used regarding the classification of the means and methods by which an online presence is often utilized to promote and support acts of terrorism.

Online Terrorist Propaganda, Recruitment, and Radicalization examines practical solutions in identifying the threat posed by terrorist propaganda and U.S. government efforts to counter it, with a particular focus on ISIS, the Dark Web, national and international measures to identify, thwart, and prosecute terrorist activities online. As such, it will be an invaluable resources for intelligence professionals, terrorism and counterterrorism professionals, those researching terrorism funding, and policy makers looking to restrict the spread of terrorism propaganda online.
Online Hate: From the Far-Right to the ‘Alt-Right’ and from the Margins to the Mainstream
2019 Winter, A. Chapter
In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was much discussion about the democratic and anti-democratic implications of the Internet. The latter particularly focused on the ways in which the far-right were using the Internet to spread hate and recruit members. Despite this common assumption, the American far-right did not harness the Internet quickly, effectively or widely. More recently, however, they have experienced a resurgence and mainstreaming, benefitting greatly from social media. This chapter examines the history of their use of the Internet with respect to: (1) how this developed in response to political changes and emerging technologies; (2) how it reflected and changed the status of such movements and their brand of hate; and (3) the relationship between online activity and traditional methods of communication.
Hidden Resilience And Adaptive Dynamics Of The Global Online Hate Ecology
2019 Johnson, N. F., Leahy, R., Johnson Restrepo, N., Velasquez, N., Zheng, M., Manrique, P., Devkota, P. and Wuchty, S. Letter
Online hate and extremist narratives have been linked to abhorrent real-world events, including a current surge in hate crimes and an alarming increase in youth suicides that result from social media vitriol; inciting mass shootings such as the 2019 attack in Christchurch, stabbings and bombings; recruitment of extremists, including entrapment and sex-trafficking of girls as fighter brides; threats against public figures, including the 2019 verbal attack against an anti-Brexit politician, and hybrid (racist–anti-women–anti-immigrant) hate threats against a US member of the British royal family; and renewed anti-western hate in the 2019 post-ISIS landscape associated with support for Osama Bin Laden’s son and Al Qaeda. Social media platforms seem to be losing the battle against online hate and urgently need new insights. Here we show that the key to understanding the resilience of online hate lies in its global network-of-network dynamics. Interconnected hate clusters form global ‘hate highways’ that—assisted by collective online adaptations—cross social media platforms, sometimes using ‘back doors’ even after being banned, as well as jumping between countries, continents and languages. Our mathematical model predicts that policing within a single platform (such as Facebook) can make matters worse, and will eventually generate global ‘dark pools’ in which online hate will flourish. We observe the current hate network rapidly rewiring and self-repairing at the micro level when attacked, in a way that mimics the formation of covalent bonds in chemistry. This understanding enables us to propose a policy matrix that can help to defeat online hate, classified by the preferred (or legally allowed) granularity of the intervention and top-down versus bottom-up nature. We provide quantitative assessments for the effects of each intervention. This policy matrix also offers a tool for tackling a broader class of illicit online behaviours such as financial fraud.
ISIS Propaganda: A Full-Spectrum Extremist Message
2019 Baele, S. J., Boyd, K. A. and Coan, T. G. Book
This book offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of the Islamic State's use of propaganda. Combining a range of different theoretical perspectives from across the social sciences, and using rigorous methods, the authors trace the origins of the Islamic State's message, laying bare the strategic logic guiding its evolution, examining each of its multi-media components, and showing how these elements work together to radicalize audiences' worldviews. This volume highlights the challenges that this sort of "full-spectrum propaganda" raises for counter terrorism forces. It is not only a one-stop resource for any analyst of IS and Salafi-jihadism, but also a rich contribution to the study of text and visual propaganda, radicalization and political violence, and international security.
Tweeting Islamophobia: Islamophobic Hate Speech Amongst Followers Of UK Political Parties On Twitter
2019 Vidgen, B. PhD Thesis
The aim of this thesis is to enhance our understanding of the nature and dynamics of Islamophobic hate speech amongst followers of UK political parties on Twitter. I study four parties from across the political spectrum: the BNP, UKIP, the Conservatives and Labour. I make three main contributions. First, I define Islamophobia in terms of negativity and generality, thus making a robust, theoretically-informed contribution to the study of a deeply contested concept. This argument informs the second contribution,
which is methodological: I create a multi-class supervised machine learning classifier for Islamophobic hate speech. This distinguishes between weak and strong varieties and can be applied robustly and at scale. My third contribution is theoretical. Drawing together my substantive findings, I argue that Islamophobic tweeting amongst followers of UK parties can be characterised as a wind system which contains Islamophobic hurricanes. This analogy captures the complex, heterogeneous dynamics underpinning Islamophobia on Twitter, and highlights its devastating effects. I also show that Islamist terrorist attacks drive Islamophobia, and that this affects followers of all four parties studied here. I use this finding to extend the theory of cumulative extremism beyond extremist groups to include individuals with mainstream affiliations. These contributions feed into ongoing academic, policymaking and activist discussions about Islamophobic hate speech in both social media and UK politics.
What Do Closed Source Data Tell Us About Lone Actor Terrorist Behavior? A Research Note
2019 Gill, P., Corner, E., McKeeb, A., Hitchen, P. and Betley, P. Article
This article contributes to the growing body of knowledge on loneactor terrorism with the incorporation of closed-source data. The analyses presented investigate the antecedent behaviors of U.K.- based lone-actor terrorists leading up to their planning or conducting a terrorist event. The results suggest that prior to their attack or arrest the vast majority of lone-actor terrorists each demonstrated elements concerning (a) their grievance, (b) an escalation in their intent to act, (c) gaining capability—both psychologically and technically and (d) attack planning. The results also disaggregate our understanding of lone-actor terrorists in two ways. First, we compare the behaviors of the jihadist actors to those of the extreme-right. Second, we visualize Borum’s (2012) continuums of loneness, direction, and motivation. Collectively the results provide insight into the threat assessment and management of potential lone actors