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 View from the CT Foxhole: An Interview with Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Policy Manager, Facebook"
2017 Cruickshank, P. Article
In our interview, Brian Fishman, Facebook’s Counterterrorism Policy Manager, provides a detailed
description of how Facebook is using artificial intelligence and a dedicated team of counterterrorism
specialists to remove terrorism content from its platform. Given the emergence of a new
generation of leadership within al-Qa`ida, it is critical to understand the evolving threat from the
group in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
Researching far right groups on Twitter: Methodological challenges 2.0
2018 Crosset, V., Tanner, S. and Campana, A Article
The Internet poses a number of challenges for academics. Internet specificities such as anonymity, the decontextualisation of discourse, the misuse or non-use of references raise methodological questions about the quality and the authenticity of the data available online. This is particularly true when dealing with extremist groups and grass-root militants that cultivate secrecy. Based on a study of the far-right on Twitter, this article explores these methodological issues. It discusses the qualitative indicators we have developed to determine whether a given Twitter account should be included in the sample or not. By using digital traces drawn from profiles, interactions, content and through other visual information, we recontextualize user’s profile and analyze how digital traces participate in providing far right ideas with a wider representation.
Dimensions in Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism
2009 Cross, S. Report
Summary Report on conference organized by the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Cooperation with the Royal Jordanian National Defence College.
It's a Man's World: Carnal Spectatorship and Dissonant Masculinities in Islamic State Videos
2020 Crone, M. Article
Islamic State videos have often been associated with savage violence and beheadings. An in-depth scrutiny however reveals another striking feature: that female bodies are absent, blurred or mute. Examining a few Islamic State videos in depth, the article suggests that the invisibility of women in tandem with the ostentatious visibility of male bodies enable gendered and embodied spectators to indulge in homoerotic as well as heterosexual imaginaries. In contrast to studies on visual security and online radicalization which assert that images affect an audience, this article focuses on the interaction between video and audience and argues that spectators are not only rational and emotional but embodied and gendered as well. Islamic State videos do not only attract western foreign fighters through religious–ideological rhetoric or emotional impact but also through gendered forms of pleasure and desire that enable carnal imagination and identification. The article probes the analytical purchase of carnal aesthetics and spectatorship.
Online Deceptions: Renegotiating Gender Boundaries on ISIS Telegram
2020 Criezis, M. Article
This resarch note examines the ways in which Islamic State supporters on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, renegotiate gender boundaries. The introduction positions receptions of female ISIS accounts in the online space within the context of the roles that women are expected to fill and ISIS’s tentative acceptance of women fighting on the battlefield. An overview of Telegram gender social norms is provided before discussing the methodology used to gather supporting archival data to analyze the renegotiation of gender boundaries on Telegram. This section is followed by an analysis of a case study that considers the wider implications of what this says about women’s agency and involvement in terrorist groups online. The conclusion addresses the policy implications of possible shifts in gender social norms and the shape that women’s engagement in violent jihadist groups might take in the future.
The Hanau Terrorist Attack: How Race Hate and Conspiracy Theories Are Fueling Global Far-Right Violence
2020 Crawford, B. and Keen, F. Article
The number of lone-actor attacks committed by far-right extremists have surged in recent years, most notably in the West where mass-casualty attacks have occurred, including the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The fatal attack in February 2020 in Hanau,
Germany, revealed the perpetrator’s influences to be a combination of traditional far-right, race-based, and anti-immigration narratives, alongside several more obscure conspiracy theories. This case demonstrates the need for further research into the intersection of these ideas and the online ecosystems in which they thrive, where notions such as the “Great Replacement” theory, aspects of which were echoed in the Hanau attacker’s own manifesto, are heavily propagated. It is this overarching idea that connects seemingly disparate attacks in a global network of ideologically analogous acts of terror.
Social Media in Africa: A double-edged sword for security and development
2018 Cox, K., Marcellino, W., Bellasio, J., Ward, A., Galai, K., Meranto, S., Paoli, P.G. Report
There is an on-going debate over the role of online activities in the radicalisation process. However, much of this debate has focused on Western countries, particularly in relation to ISIL’s online influence of homegrown terrorism and of foreign fighter travel to Iraq and Syria. Less is known about patterns of online radicalisation in Africa and about the extent to which African national governmental strategies focus on addressing this issue. To address this gap in knowledge, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) commissioned RAND Europe to explore social media use and online radicalisation in Africa.
GCTF - Zurich-London Recommendations ENG
2018 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group Report
The Global Counterterrorism Forum published this report to compile a non-exhaustive list of governmental good practices regarding strategic communications and social media aspects in preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism online for GCTF Members – as well as any other interested Government. The good practices expressed in this document were identified in meetings and subsequent discussions with GCTF Members, reflecting their experience in this regard. Moreover, with these recommendations, the GCTF aims to support and complement existing work and initiatives by other international and regional organisations, namely the UN and other relevant stakeholders involved in this context. The good practices are divided into three sections: Section I addresses overarching good practices for preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism online; Section II addresses good practices for content-based responses; and Section III addresses good practices for communications-based responses.
The Eglyph Web Crawler: ISIS Content on YouTube
2018 Counter Extremism Project Report
From March 8 to June 8, 2018, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) conducted a study to better understand how ISIS content is being uploaded to YouTube, how long it is staying online, and how many views these videos receive. To accomplish this, CEP conducted a limited search for a small set of just 229 previously-identified ISIS terror-related videos from among the trove of extremist material available on the platform. CEP used two computer programs to locate these ISIS videos: a web crawler to search video titles and descriptions for keywords in videos uploaded to YouTube, and eGLYPH, a robust hashing content-identification system. CEP’s search of a limited set of ISIS terror-related videos found that hundreds of ISIS videos are uploaded to YouTube every month, which in turn garner thousands of views.
OK Google, Show Me Extremism: Analysis of YouTube’s Extremist Video Takedown Policy and Counter-Narrative Program
2018 Counter Extremism Project Report
ISIS and other extremist groups, as well as their online supporters, have continued to exploit and misuse Google’s platforms to disseminate propaganda material, despite the company having repeatedly announced increased measures to combat online extremism.1 On July 21, 2017, Google announced the launch of one such measure––its Redirect Method Pilot Program. The program is intended to target individuals searching for ISIS-related content on YouTube and direct them to counter-narrative videos, which try to undermine the messaging of extremist
groups.2 The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) monitors and tracks ISIS and other terrorist organizations’ material on YouTube. Between August 2 and August 3, 2018, CEP reviewed a total of 649 YouTube videos for extremist and counter-narrative content. The result of CEP’s searches highlights the extent of the enduring problem of terrorist content on YouTube and undermines claims touting the efficacy of the company’s efforts to combat online extremism.
Defending an Open, Global, Secure and Resilient Internet
2013 Council on Foreign Relations, US Policy
A balkanized Internet beset by hostile cyber-related activities raises a host of questions and problems for the U.S. government, American corporations, and American citizens. The Council on Foreign Relations launched this Task Force to define the scope of this rapidly developing issue and to help shape the norms, rules, and laws that should govern the Internet. This is the report published by the Task Force.
Watching ISIS: How Young Adults Engage with Official English-language ISIS Videos
2018 Cottee S., and Cunliffe, J. Article
Research on jihadist online propaganda (henceforth JOP) tends to focus on the production, content and dissemination of jihadist online messages. Correspondingly, the target of JOP – that is, the audience – has thus far attracted little scholarly attention. This article seeks to redress this neglect by focusing on how audiences respond to jihadist online messaging. It presents the findings of an online pilot survey testing audience responses to clips from English-language ISIS videos. The survey was beset at every stage by ethical, legal and practical restrictions, and we discuss how these compromised our results and what this means for those attempting to do research in this highly sensitive area.
Who Views Online Extremism? Individual Attributes Leading to Exposure
2016 Costello, M., Howdon, J. and Ratliff, T. Article
Who is likely to view materials online maligning groups based on race, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, political views, immigration status, or religion? We use an online survey (N = 1034) of youth and young adults recruited from a demographically balanced sample of Americans to address this question. By studying demographic characteristics and online habits of individuals who are exposed to online extremist groups and their messaging, this study serves as a precursor to a larger research endeavor examining the online contexts of extremism.

Descriptive results indicate that a sizable majority of respondents were exposed to negative materials online. The materials were most commonly used to stereotype groups. Nearly half of negative material centered on race or ethnicity, and respondents were likely to encounter such material on social media sites. Regression results demonstrate African-Americans and foreign-born respondents were significantly less likely to be exposed to negative material online, as are younger respondents. Additionally, individuals expressing greater levels of trust in the federal government report significantly less exposure to such materials. Higher levels of education result in increased exposure to negative materials, as does a proclivity towards risk-taking.

Who views online extremism? Individual attributes leading to exposure
2016 Costello, M., Hawdon, J., Ratliff, T. and Grantham, T. Article
Who is likely to view materials online maligning groups based on race, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, political views, immigration status, or religion? We use an online survey (N = 1034) of youth and young adults recruited from a demographically balanced sample of Americans to address this question. By studying demographic characteristics and online habits of individuals who are exposed to online extremist groups and their messaging, this study serves as a precursor to a larger research endeavor examining the online contexts of extremism. Descriptive results indicate that a sizable majority of respondents were exposed to negative materials online. The materials were most commonly used to stereotype groups. Nearly half of negative material centered on race or ethnicity, and respondents were likely to encounter such material on social media sites. Regression results demonstrate African-Americans and foreign-born respondents were significantly less likely to be exposed to negative material online, as are younger respondents. Additionally, individuals expressing greater levels of trust in the federal government report significantly less exposure to such materials. Higher levels of education result in increased exposure to negative materials, as does a proclivity towards risk-taking.
Confronting Online Extremism: The Effect of Self-Help, Collective Efficacy, and Guardianship on Being a Target for Hate Speech
2016 Costello, M., Hawdon, J., Ratliff, T. Journal
Who is likely to be a target of online hate and extremism? To answer this question, we use an online survey (N = 963) of youth and young adults recruited from a demographically balanced sample of Americans. Adapting routine activity theory, we distinguish between actor-initiated social control (i.e., self-help), other-initiated social control (i.e., collective efficacy), and guardianship and show how self-help is positively related to the likelihood of being targeted by hate. Our findings highlight how online exposure to hate materials, target suitability, and enacting social control online all influence being the target of hate. Using social networking sites and encountering hate material online have a particularly strong relationship with being targeted with victim suitability (e.g., discussing private matters online, participating in hate online) and confronting hate also influencing the likelihood of being the target of hate speech.
Predictors of Viewing Online Extremism Among America’s Youth
2018 Costello, M., Barrett-Fox, R., Bernatzky, C., Hawdon, J. and Mendes, K. Article
Exposure to hate material is related to a host of negative outcomes. Young people might be especially vulnerable to the deleterious effects of such exposure. With that in mind, this article examines factors associated with the frequency that youth and young adults, ages 15 to 24, see material online that expresses negative views toward a social group. We use an online survey of individuals recruited from a demographically balanced sample of Americans for this project. Our analysis controls for variables that approximate online routines, social, political, and economic grievances, and sociodemographic traits. Findings show that spending more time online, using particular social media sites, interacting with close friends online, and espousing political views online all correlate with increased exposure to online hate. Harboring political grievances is likewise associated with seeing hate material online frequently. Finally, Whites are more likely than other race/ethnic groups to be exposed to online hate frequently.
Who Are the Online Extremists Among Us? Sociodemographic Characteristics, Social Networking, and Online Experiences of Those Who Produce Online Hate Materials
2018 Costello, M. and Hawdon, J. Article
What are the factors associated with the production of online hate material? Past research has focused on attributes associated with seeing and being targeted by online hate material, but we know surprisingly little about the creators of such material. This study seeks to address this gap in the knowledge, using a random sample of Americans, aged 15–36. Descriptive results indicate that nearly one-fifth of our sample reported producing online material that others would likely interpret as hateful or degrading. We utilize a logistic regression to understand more about these individuals. Results indicate that men are significantly more likely than women to produce online hate material. This fits with the broader pattern of men being more apt to engage in deviant and criminal behaviors, both online and offline. Other results show that the use of particular social networking sites, such as Reddit, Tumblr, and general messaging boards, is positively related to the dissemination of hate material online. Counter to expectations, the use of first-person shooter games actually decreased the likelihood of producing hate material online. This could suggest that violent videogames serve as outlet for aggression, and not a precursor. In addition, we find that individuals who are close to an online community, or spend more time in areas populated by hate, are more inclined to produce hate material. We expected that spending more time online would correlate with the production of hate, but this turned out not to be true. In fact, spending more time online actually reduces the likelihood of doing so. This result could indicate that individuals who spend more time online are focused on a particular set of tasks, as opposed to using the Internet to disseminate hate.
Hard Copy Versus #Hashtag: Examining The Channels Of Terrorist Propaganda
2018 Copello,E. MA Thesis
In recent years, terrorism and radicalization have been a consistent issue that many countries have faced. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been the most recent in a long trail of organizations that have sought to strike terror against the western world. However, ISIS is distinguished from other groups, like Al-Qaeda, in that ISIS supports a complex propaganda machine. Although ISIS is not the first organization to use the social media platform, they are the first to use it with such diversity. The two main channels that ISIS uses to spread their propaganda messages are through social media sites such as Twitter and through online journals such as the Dabiq. Recent research has attempted to determine how recruitment messages are being received and which messages trigger recruitment. It is the goal of this paper to determine which messages are salient, and the psychological constructs that support them. By coding messages for appeals to identity, need for cognitive closure, time pressure, and appeals to ideology, the researchers expect that the two main channels of ISIS propaganda differ in their messages. We hypothesize that Twitter messages will be targeted towards novice ISIS sympathizers, whereas the Dabiq will be focused on already-radicalized individuals who have moved past the introduction of the radical ideology.
How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate
2009 Cooper, A. Lecture
An analysis of how social media outlets impact digital terrorism and hate
Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online in 2017: The Year in Review
2018 Conway, M., with Courtney, M. VOX-Pol Publication
The use of the Internet, particularly social media, by violent extremists and terrorists and their supporters received an increasing amount of attention from policymakers, media, Internet companies, and civil society organisations in 2017. In addition to politicians stepping-up their rhetoric regarding the threat posed by consumption of and networking around violent extremist and terrorist online content, prominent and heavily trafficked social media platforms also took a stronger stand on the issue this year, which caused civil liberties organisations considerable disquiet. This report treats developments in the violent extremist and terrorist online scene(s) and responses to them in the 12-month period from 1 December 2016 to 30 November 2017.