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
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 and the Digital Right-Wing
2019 Harwood, E.T. Article
Elizabeth T. Harwood on networks of provocation.
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.
Too Dark To See Explaining Adolescents Contact With Online Extremism And Their Ability To Recognize It
2019 Nienierza, A., Reinemann, C., Fawzi, N., Riesmeyer, C. and Neumann, K. Article
Adolescents are considered especially vulnerable to extremists’ online activities because they are ‘always online’ and because they are still in the process of identity formation. However, so far, we know little about (a) how often adolescents encounter extremist content in different online media and (b) how well they are able to recognize extremist messages. In addition, we do not know (c) how individual-level factors derived from radicalization research and (d) media and civic literacy affect extremist encounters and recognition abilities. We address these questions based on a representative face-to-face survey among German adolescents (n = 1,061) and qualitative interviews using a think-aloud method (n = 68). Results show that a large proportion of adolescents encounter extremist messages frequently, but that many others have trouble even identifying extremist content. In addition, factors known from radicalization research (e.g., deprivation, discrimination, specific attitudes) as well as extremism-related media and civic literacy influence the frequency of extremist encounters and recognition abilities.
Antisemitism on Twitter: Collective efficacy and the role of community organisations in challenging online hate speech
2019 Ozalp, A.S., Williams, M.L., Burnap, P., Liu, H. and Mostafa, M. Article
In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive study of online antagonistic content related to Jewish identity posted on Twitter between October 2015 and October 2016 by UK-based users. We trained a scalable supervised machine learning classifier to identify antisemitic content to reveal patterns of online antisemitism perpetration at the source. We built statistical models to analyse the inhibiting and enabling factors of the size (number of retweets) and survival (duration of retweets) of information flows in addition to the production of online antagonistic content. Despite observing high temporal variability, we found that only a small proportion (0.7%) of the content was antagonistic. We also found that antagonistic content was less likely to disseminate in size or survive fora longer period. Information flows from antisemitic agents on Twitter gained less traction, while information flows emanating from capable and willing counter-speech actors -i.e. Jewish organisations- had a significantly higher size and survival rates. This study is the first to demonstrate that Sampson’s classic sociological concept of collective efficacy can be observed on social media (SM). Our findings suggest that when organisations aiming to counter harmful narratives become active on SM platforms, their messages propagate further and achieve greater longevity than antagonistic messages. On SM, counter-speech posted by credible, capable and willing actors can be an effective measure to prevent harmful narratives. Based on our findings, we underline the value of the work by community organisations in reducing the propagation of cyberhate and increasing trust in SM platforms.
Combating Violent Extremism Voices Of Former Right Wing Extremists
2019 Scrivens, R., Venkatesh, V., Bérubé, M. and Gaudette, T. Article
While it has become increasingly common for researchers, practitioners and policymakers to draw from the insights of former extremists to combat violent extremism, overlooked in this evolving space has been an in-depth look at how formers perceive such efforts. To address this gap, interviews were conducted with 10 Canadian former right-wing extremists based on a series of questions provided by 30 Canadian law enforcement officials and 10 community activists. Overall, formers suggest that combating violent extremism requires a multidimensional response, largely consisting of support from parents and families, teachers and educators, law enforcement officials, and other credible formers.
Deep Context-Aware Embedding for Abusive and Hate Speech Detection on Twitter
2019 Naseem, U., Razzak, I. and Hameed, I. A. Article
Violence usually spread online, as it has spread in the past. With the increasing use of social media, the violence attributed to online hate speech has increased worldwide resulting rise in number of attacks on immigrants and other minorities. Analysis of such short text posts (e.g. tweets etc.) is valuable for identification of abusive language and hate speech. In this paper, we present Deep Context-Aware Embedding for the detection of Hate speech and abusive language on twitter. To improve the classification performance, we have enhanced the quality of the tweets by considering polsemy, syntax, semantic, OOV words as well as sentiment knowledge and concatenated to form input vector. We have used BiLSTM with attention modeling to identify tweet with hate speech. Experimental results showed significant improvement in the classification of tweets.
The Topic of Terrorism on Yahoo! Answers: Questions, Answers and Users’ Anonymity
2019 Chua, A. and Banerjee, S. Article
The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of community question answering sites (CQAs) on the topic of terrorism. Three research questions are investigated: what are the dominant themes reflected in terrorism-related questions? How do answer characteristics vary with question themes? How does users’ anonymity relate to question themes and answer characteristics?

Data include 300 questions that attracted 2,194 answers on the community question answering Yahoo! Answers. Content analysis was employed.

The questions reflected the community’s information needs ranging from the life of extremists to counter-terrorism policies. Answers were laden with negative emotions reflecting hate speech and Islamophobia, making claims that were rarely verifiable. Users who posted sensitive content generally remained anonymous.

This paper raises awareness of how CQAs are used to exchange information about sensitive topics such as terrorism. It calls for governments and law enforcement agencies to collaborate with major social media companies to develop a process for cross-platform blacklisting of users and content, as well as identifying those who are vulnerable.

Theoretically, it contributes to the academic discourse on terrorism in CQAs by exploring the type of questions asked, and the sort of answers they attract. Methodologically, the paper serves to enrich the literature around terrorism and social media that has hitherto mostly drawn data from Facebook and Twitter.
Detecting Weak and Strong Islamophobic Hate Speech on Social Media
2019 Vidgen, B. Article
Islamophobic hate speech on social media is a growing concern in contemporary Western politics and society. It can inflict considerable harm on any victims who are targeted, create a sense of fear and exclusion amongst their communities, toxify public discourse and motivate other forms of extremist and hateful behavior. Accordingly, there is a pressing need for automated tools to detect and classify Islamophobic hate speech robustly and at scale, thereby enabling quantitative analyses of large textual datasets, such as those collected from social media. Previous research has mostly approached the automated detection of hate speech as a binary task. However, the varied nature of Islamophobia means that this is often inappropriate for both theoretically informed social science and effective monitoring of social media platforms. Drawing on in-depth conceptual work we build an automated software tool which distinguishes between non-Islamophobic, weak Islamophobic and strong Islamophobic content. Accuracy is 77.6% and balanced accuracy is 83%. Our tool enables future quantitative research into the drivers, spread, prevalence and effects of Islamophobic hate speech on social media.
The Role of the Internet in Facilitating Violent Extremism and Terrorism: Suggestions for Progressing Research
2019 Scrivens, R., Gill, P. and Conway, M. Chapter
Many researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers continue to raise questions about the role of the Internet in facilitating violent extremism and terrorism. A surge in research on this issue notwithstanding, relatively few empirically grounded analyses are yet available. This chapter provides researchers with five key suggestions for progressing knowledge on the role of the Internet in facilitating violent extremism and terrorism so that we may be better placed to determine the significance of online content and activity in the latter going forward. These five suggestions relate to (1) collecting primary data across multiple types of populations; (2) making archives of violent extremist online content accessible for use by researchers and on user-friendly platforms; (3) outreaching beyond terrorism studies to become acquainted with, for example, the Internet studies literature and engaging in interdisciplinary research with, for example, computer scientists; (4) including former extremists in research projects, either as study participants or project collaborators; and (5) drawing connections between the on- and offline worlds of violent extremists.
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.
Wie Cyberterrorismus stattfindet - und warum wir ihn nicht sehen
2020 Enghofer, S., Müller, D. and Parrino, A. Chapter
Verschwörungstheorien von im Untergrund herrschenden „Echsenmenschen“ oder einer „flachen Erde“ mögen in den Augen eines aufgeklärten Menschen abwegig und bizarr erscheinen, doch tatsächlich erfahren diese Narrative dank dem Internet erhöhte Beachtung. Schon lange sind Ufos, die „false-flag-Anschläge“ von 9/11 und die gefälschte Mondlandung Teil eines virtuellen Erklärungsangebots an Menschen, die grundsätzliches Misstrauen gegenüber traditionellen Medien oder dem „Mainstream-Glauben“ hegen. Während diese Devianz in der bisherigen Form keine oder kaum Auswirkungen auf gesellschaftliche Prozesse hatte, ist ab 2016 eine Zeitenwende erkennbar. Verschiedene Indizien geben Anlass zur Sorge, denn obwohl sog. „alternative Fakten“ – Falschmeldungen, Fake-News und Desinformationen – keine gänzlich neuen politischen Phänomene darstellen, erhöht sich deren virulente Wirkung durch das Internet. Dabei sticht insbesondere ein Vorfall hervor, der als Präzedenzfall einer Wirklichkeitsmanipulation mit weitreichender Implikation gelten kann: #Pizzagate.
Online Extremism
2020 The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Report
The internet can leave users vulnerable to social challenges, which creates opportunities for extremism to spread. Users can be exposed to extremism in multiple ways, including through recruitment and socialisation. Extremist content may be found on mainstream social media sites and ‘alt-tech’ platforms, which replicate the functions of mainstream social media but have been created or co-opted for the unconventional needs of specific users. Automatic detection can be used to moderate extremist content on a large scale. However, this is prone to false positives and may disproportionately impact a particular group, which can fuel mistrust in the state. Many stakeholders believe that current counter-extremism responses are too focused on law and technology, and do not address the underlying reasons that people are drawn to extremist content. Individual and societal interventions aim to identify underlying socio-economic and cultural contributors and implement protective factors to reduce how many people develop extremist views.
Onlife Extremism: Dynamic Integration of Digital and Physical Spaces in Radicalization
2020 Valentini, D., Lorusso, A.M. and Stephan, A. Article
This article argues that one should consider online and offline radicalization in an integrated way. Occasionally, the design of some counter-measure initiatives treats the internet and the “real” world as two separate and independent realms. New information communication technologies (ICTs) allow extremists to fuse digital and physical settings. As a result, our research contends that radicalization takes place in onlife spaces: hybrid environments that incorporate elements from individuals’ online and offline experiences. This study substantiates this claim, and it examines how algorithms structure information on social media by tracking users’ online and offline activities. Then, it analyzes how the Islamic State promoted onlife radicalization. We focus on how the Islamic State used Telegram, specific media techniques, and videos to connect the Web to the territories it controlled in Syria. Ultimately, the article contributes to the recalibration of the current debate on the relationship between online and offline radicalization on a theoretical level and suggests, on a practical level, potential counter measures.
To Train Terrorists Onsite or Motivate via the Internet…That is the Question
2020 Siqueira, K. and Arce, D. Article
This paper investigates an agency model of a terrorist organization in which the training and motivation of recruits can occur onsite, in physical training camps, or at arm's length through the Internet. In so doing, we develop measures of the effectiveness and efficacy of these recruit training methods. A dividing line for choosing between the two is characterized in terms of the degree to which onsite training augments an operative's probability of mission success. In comparing our results to data on terror-tactic lethality, one implication is that terrorist organizations are likely to consider Internet training as sufficient for any tactic that is less complex and less lethal than vehicular assaults, and will require onsite motivation and training for more complex missions such as multiple-operative mass shootings and suicide bombings.
Livestreaming the ‘wretched of the Earth’: The Christchurch massacre and the ‘death-bound subject’
2020 Ibrahim, Y. Article
The livestreaming of terror, its co-production through live consumption and the massacre of lives as ‘entertainment’ propelled us into another long abyss of ethical challenges in the case of the xenophobic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. Livestreaming, as part of the convergence of technologies, enables narration in ‘real’ time, dragging us into a new ‘banalisation of evil’ where terror and torture can be co-produced by inviting audiences to consume through the vantage point of the perpetrator. This article examines the Muslim ‘body’ through JanMohamed’s notion of the ‘death-bound subject’ where the continual threat of death foreshadows the Muslim body, imbricating it within a political and ideological archaeology wherein both its possibility of death and the performance of death enter into a realm of theatrics of production incumbent upon invoking new moralities around consumption and its residues as a screen image. The ‘wretched of the Earth’ and their residues as immaterial matter online as the ‘wretched of the screen’ connote a new architecture of violence conjoining the temporalities of liveness with the sharing features of ‘semiotic capitalism’.
Social Media in Mali and its Relation to Violent Extremism: A Youth Perspective
2020 Vermeersch, E., Coleman, J., Demuynck, M. and Dal Santo, E. Report
The influence of social media on the spread of violent extremist narratives and online radicalisation processes has recently become a focal point for research in the fields of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism; however, most of the studies thus far have focused on Western countries and have often been aimed at analysing phenomena such as homegrown and lone wolf terrorism or the online radicalisation of foreign terrorist fighters. Far less evidence-based research has explored the influence of social media on terrorism in Africa and even less regarding Mali in particular. In this report, ICCT and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) seek to fill this gap through an analysis of survey data from youth participants in their joint on-the-ground project in Mali—“Mali (Dis-) Engagement and Re-Integration related to Terrorism” (MERIT)—to determine the implications of social media use for violent extremism in Mali.
The Shift from Consumers to Prosumers: Susceptibility of Young Adults to Radicalization
2020 Sugihartati, R., Suyanto, B. and Sirry, M. Article
This article examines the radicalization of young adults in relation to internet access and the social media content produced and managed by radical groups in Indonesia. Some of the research problems that become the major concern of this article were how young people respond to the internet and social media that provide radical content, how they find out about and access the content, what their purposes are for accessing radical content, and what they do with the radical content. The data discussed in this article were obtained from surveys and interviews with 700 students from seven state universities in Indonesia who were allegedly exposed to radicalism, according to the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT). The state universities that became research locations were the University of Indonesia (UI), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Bogor Agriculture University (IPB), Diponegoro University (Undip), the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS), Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), and the University of Brawijaya (UB). This study revealed that in addition to accessing and consuming various radical content, some students also acted as prosumers. That is, they did not only read, but also produced information related to radicalization, and then recirculated it via social media.
The Virus of Hate: Far-Right Terrorism in Cyberspace
2020 Weimann, G. and Masri, N. Report
Founded in 1996, the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) is one of the leading academic institutes for counter-terrorism in the world, facilitating international cooperation in the global struggle against terrorism. ICT is an independent think tank providing expertise in terrorism, counter-terrorism, homeland security, threat vulnerability and risk assessment, intelligence analysis and national security and defense policy. ICT is a non-profit organization located at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel which relies exclusively on private donations and revenue from events, projects and program.