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 Large-Scale Study Of ISIS Social Media Strategy: Community Size, Collective Influence, And Behavioral Impact
2019 Alfifi, M., Kaghazgaran, P. and Caverlee, J. Article
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has received a tremendous amount of media coverage in the past few years for their successful use of social media to spread their message and to recruit new members. In this work, we leverage access to the full Twitter Firehose to perform a large-scale observational study of one year of ISIS social activity. We quantify the size of ISIS presence on Twitter, the potential amount of support it received, and its collective influence over time. We find that ISIS was able to gain a relatively limited portion from the total influence mass on Twitter and that this influence diminished over time. In addition, ISIS showed a tendency towards attracting interactions from
other similar pro-ISIS accounts, while inviting only a limited anti-ISIS sentiment. We find that 75% of the interactions ISIS received on Twitter in 2015 actually came from eventually suspended accounts and that only about 8% of the interactions they received were anti-ISIS. In addition, we have created a unique dataset of 17 million ISIS-related tweets posted in 2015 which we make available for research purposes upon request.
Promoting Extreme Violence: Visual and Narrative Analysis of Select Ultraviolent Terror Propaganda Videos Produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2015 and 2016
2018 Venkatesh,V., Podoshen, J., Wallin, J., Rabah, J., Glass, D. Article
This paper examines aspects of violent, traumatic terrorist video propaganda produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) within the theoretical confines of abjection and the use of utopian/dystopian themes. These themes have been present in a number of studies that have examined consumption of the dark dystopic variety. We seek to elucidate on the use of specific techniques and narratives that are relatively new to the global propaganda consumerspace and that relate to horrific violence. Our work here is centered on interpretative analysis and theory building that we believe can assist in understanding and interpreting post-apocalyptic and abject-oriented campaigns in the age of social media and rapid transmission of multimedia communications. In the present analysis, we examine eight ISIS videos created and released in 2015 and 2016. All of the videos chosen for analysis have utilized techniques related to abjection, shock, and horror, often culminating in the filming of the murder of ISIS’s enemies or place-based destruction of holy sites in the Middle East. We use inductive content analytic techniques in the contexts of consumer culture, “cinemas of attraction,” and pornography of violence to propose an extension of existing frameworks of terrorism and propaganda theory.
Terrorism and the Proportionality of Internet Surveillance
2009 Brown, I., Douwe, K. Article
As the Internet has become a mainstream communications mechanism, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have developed new surveillance capabilities and been given new legal powers to monitor its users. These capabilities have been particularly targeted toward terrorism suspects and organizations that have been observed using the Internet for communication, propaganda, research, planning, publicity, fundraising and creating a distributed sense of community. Policing has become increasingly pre-emptive, with a range of activities criminalized as `supporting' or `apologizing for' terrorism. The privacy and non-discrimination rights that are core to the European legal framework are being challenged by the increased surveillance and profiling of terrorism suspects. We argue that their disproportionate nature is problematic for democracy and the rule of law, and will lead to practical difficulties for cross-border cooperation between law enforcement agencies.
Exploring the “Demand Side” of Online Radicalization: Evidence from the Canadian Context
2018 Bastung, M., Douai, A., Akca, D. Article
We examined whether and how social media play a role in the process of radicalization, and whether and for what purposes extremists use social media after they become radicalized within a sample of fifty-one Canadian extremists. Differences between converts and non-converts in terms of their radicalization process, involvement in terrorism, and social media usage were also investigated. Data were collected from a combination of media reports via an in-depth LexisNexis search and court records obtained from The Canadian Legal Information Institute database. The results confirm that social media played a role either during or after the radicalization process of the majority of the sample and converts are more vulnerable to online radicalization than non-converts.
Populism, extremism and media: Mapping an uncertain terrain
2016 Alvares, C., Dahlgren, P. Article
Aiming to critically review key research on populism, extremism and media, this article examines some definition aspects of populism as a concept, its relation to ‘the people’ and points to future directions for research in mainstream – and social media – the terrain where so much of the political is played out. An individualisation of civic cultures has emerged in tandem with the growth of mediated populism through the use of new technologies, with a tendency towards personalisation in the public domain. While the new technological affordances exemplified by Web 2.0 may have contributed to intensified forms of popular engagement, they have been less successful in promoting democratic values, as shown by the results of the May 2014 European Parliamentary elections. Thus, the question as to the type of publics that are ‘possible and desirable in present circumstances’ (Nolan, 2008: 747) remains valid, for publics can espouse anti-democratic values while nevertheless remaining ‘publics’. The fact that the link between the new media and right-wing extremism has been comparatively explored at greater length than that of a religious bend indicates the need to invest in the latter, especially due to home-bred Islamic terrorism increasingly seen as threatening the multiculturalism of various European societies. Several avenues for research are presented to this effect, with a final reflection on the challenge posed by new media to the concept of media populism, both in terms of the Net’s market logics and the specificity of its architecture.
Trans-mediatized terrorism: The Sydney Lindt Café siege
2018 Ali, S., Khattab, U. Article
This article presents an empirical analysis of the Australian media representation of terrorism using the 2014 Sydney Lindt Café siege as a case in point to engage with the notion of moral panic. Deploying critical discourse analysis and case study as mixed methods, insights into trans-media narratives and aftermath of the terrifying siege are presented. While news media appeared to collaborate with the Australian right-wing government in the reporting of terrorism, social media posed challenges and raised security concerns for the state. Social media heightened the drama as sites were variously deployed by the perpetrator, activists and concerned members of the public. The amplified trans-media association of Muslims with terrorism in Australia and its national and global impact, in terms of the political exclusion of Muslims, are best described in this article in the form of an Islamophobic Moral Panic Model, invented for a rethink of the various stages of its occurrence, intensification and institutionalization.
Structuring of the Terrorism Problem in the Digital Age: A Systems Perspective
2018 Odhiambi Achieng, N., Ochara Muganda, N., Kadymatimba, A. Article
Terrorism is a global challenge of the 21 st century. The Kenya Westgate Mall attack and Garrissa University attacks in 2015 and the Libya suicide bombings, did not only claim the lives of many, but also had great political consequences. The advancements, ease of access and availability of information and communication technologies (ICT) is blamed for the increases in terrorist attacks: for instance, the Internet and especially, social media. This is because through the Internet, terrorist organizations such as ISIS have come up with innovative ways to recruit new members, to train and even disseminate ideologies. However, the terrorist opponents (counter-terrorism organizations) also have developed innovative counter-measures using ICT. Therefore, understanding and structuring terrorism in this digital age has enhanced the complexity in addition to multiple stakeholders involved in terrorism related incidences, intertwined causal-relationships, and the uncertainties in the mode of operandi of the terrorists. In this study, theory of synergetics is applied both as a theoretical and methodological approach to try structure the terrorism problem. Secondary data sources such as journal articles on terrorism related incidences and search terms (i.e. terrorism AND technology, terrorism AND Internet), were used by the researchers' to identify and include relevant documents in the study. Following the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the researchers remained with only 405 documents from which using the qualitative software Nvivo, a word cloud was developed to pictorially visualize the terrorism problem. Thereafter, relying on synergetics and using results from the word cloud, the researchers' were able to create a conceptual model. The findings from the analysis of the conceptual model showed that technology plays a critical role in the fight against terrorism as it appears to be part of each of the various components of synergetics, namely, order parameters, system elements, internal and external constraints, control parameters and environment.
Visual Jihad: Constructing the “Good Muslim” in Online Jihadist Magazines
2019 MacDonald, S. and Lorenzo-Dus, Nuria Article
Images are known to have important effects on human perception and persuasion. Jihadist groups are also known to make strategic use of emotive imagery and symbolism for persuasive ends. Yet until recently studies of the online magazines published by violent jihadist groups largely focused on their textual, not their image, content and, while the image content of these magazines is now the subject of a burgeoning number of studies, few of these compare the images used by different groups. This article accordingly offers a cross-group comparison, examining the image content of a total of thirty-nine issues of five online magazines published by four different jihadist groups. Starting with a content analysis, it shows that the images’ most common focus is non-leader jihadis. Using a news values analysis, it then shows how these images of non-leader jihadis are used to visually construct the identity of a “good Muslim.” This construct is characterized by three traits, each corresponding to a different news value: fulfilled (personalization); active (consonance); and respected (prominence). Moreover, these traits are intertwined: fulfillment comes from responding actively to the call to violent jihad, which in turn promises respect. The article concludes by highlighting some subtle differences between how the news values of personalization, consonance, and prominence are realized in the different magazines, and by discussing the implications of the “good Muslim” construct for efforts to develop countermessages.
The Ungovernability of Digital Hate Culture
2018 Ganesh, B. Article
Social media and the Internet play an important role in the proliferation of hateful and extreme speech. Looking to contemporary networks of digitally mediated extreme right-wing communication, this essay explores the form, dynamics, and potential governance of digital hate culture. It focuses on the cultural practices and imagination present in the networks of digital hate culture to illuminate how two frames, the Red Pill and white genocide, unify the different groups that take part in these networks. After providing a high-level overview of these networks, this essay explains three formal features of digital hate culture that make it ungovernable: its swarm structure, its exploitation of inconsistencies in web governance between different actors, and its use of coded language to avoid moderation by government or private sector actors. By outlining its cultural style and ungovernable features, this essay provides policy professionals and researchers with an understanding of contemporary digital hate culture and provides suggestions for future approaches to consider when attempting to counter and disrupt the networks on which it depends.
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.
"The Lions Of Tomorrow": A News Value Analysis Of Child Images In Jihadi Magazines
2018 Watkin, A. and Looney, S. Article
This article reports and discusses the results of a study that investigated photographic images of children in five online terrorist magazines to understand the roles of children in these groups. The analysis encompasses issues of Inspire, Dabiq, Jihad Recollections (JR), Azan, and Gaidi Mtanni (GM) from 2009 to 2016. The total number of images was ninety-four. A news value framework was applied that systematically investigated what values the images held that resulted in them being “newsworthy” enough to be published. This article discusses the key findings, which were that Dabiq distinguished different roles for boys and girls, portrayed fierce and prestigious boy child perpetrators, and children flourishing under the caliphate; Inspire and Azan focused on portraying children as victims of Western-backed warfare; GM portrayed children supporting the cause peacefully; and JR contained no re-occurring findings.
Trends of Anashid Usage in Da‘esh Video Messaging and Implications for Identifying Terrorist Audio and Video
2019 Pieslak, J., Pieslak, B. and Lemieux, A. F. Article
This article examines how Da‘esh utilizes anashid (“Islamic songs” or “recitation”) as soundtrack elements within its video messaging, focusing primarily on a sample set of 755 videos released in 2015. The authors also present the development of an automatic content recognition (ACR) tool that enabled them to engage this large data set. The article then explores the possibilities of ACR for the identification of terrorist audio and video, utilizing the conclusions drawn from the trends of audio usage in Da‘esh video messaging to support the validity and promise of such an approach.

Facebook jihad: A case study of recruitment discourses and strategies targeting a Western female
2011 Torok, R. Article
Recent years has seen a trend towards the increasing specificity of recruitment targets for global jihad. This paper is a case study of the discourses used to recruit a Western female who originally subscribed to an antigovernment, anti-New World Order ideology. Categorising using grounded theory analysis found that female recruiters tapped into the interest of their target subject and then shifted her towards sympathy and commitment to radical Islam. This was achieved through media saturation of Western aggression against Muslims coupled with an ideology that promotes the need to fight and resist. Subject material to which the recruit was directed was carefully controlled and initially deemphasized the Qur’an in favour of mujahedeen narratives and the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki. Overall, the research supported a sophisticated narrowcasting strategy that was carefully developed primarily by female recruiters.
Expressing and Challenging Racist Discourse on Facebook: How Social Media Weaken the “Spiral of Silence” Theory
2019 Chaudhry, I. and Gruzd, A. Article
This article examines the discursive practices of Facebook users who use the platform to express racist views. We analyzed 51,991 public comments posted to 119 news stories about race, racism, or ethnicity on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Facebook page. We examined whether users who hold racist viewpoints (the vocal minority) are less likely to express views that go against the majority view for fear of social isolation. According to the “spiral of silence” theory, the vocal minority would presumably fear this isolation effect. However, our analysis shows that on Facebook, a predominantly nonanonymous and moderated platform, the vocal minority are comfortable expressing unpopular views, questioning the explanatory power of this popular theory in the online context. Based on automated analysis of 8,636 comments, we found 64 percent mentioned race or ethnicity, and 18 percent exhibited some form of othering. A manual coding of 1,161 comments showed that 18 percent exhibited some form of othering, and 25 percent countered the racist discourse. In sum, while Facebook provides space to express racist discourse, users also turn to this platform to counter the hateful narratives.
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.
Perceived Societal Fear and Cyberhate after the November 2015 Paris Terrorist Attacks
2018 Oksanen, A., Kaakinen, M., Minkkinen, J., Räsänen, P., Enjolras, B. and Steen-Johnsen, K. Article
Fear is one of the negative outcomes of terrorist attacks. Currently, there is a need to understand how societal fear and fear of terrorism might be shaped and induced by social-media discussions. This study analyzed how exposure to cyberhate was associated with perceived societal fear after the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks. Demographically balanced data sets were collected from France, Spain, Finland, Norway, and the United States four weeks after the attacks. Cyberhate exposure was associated with higher perceived societal fear in all countries studied even when adjusting for confounding factors. This was particularly evident in the case of cyberhate related to terrorism. Hateful online communication after disruptive events may contribute to a social climate of fear and escalate societal uncertainty. There are, however, indications that social trust may bolster against perceived societal fear, hence enhancing resilience.
Populism and Media Policy Failure
2018 Freedman, D. Article
Far right populist politicians and movements have secured high levels of visibility thanks to often compliant media outlets and unregulated digital platforms. The pursuit of media coverage and the communication of rage are no longer incidental but essential to the growth of reactionary populisms. Yet, while prominent liberal media outlets are ‘aghast’ at events such as the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote, little attention has been paid to the structural conditions and policy frameworks that have facilitated the circulation of clickbait and misinformation, together with the incessant coverage of their leaders, that have been exploited by far right movements. This article identifies four areas of ‘media policy failure’ that have nurtured highly skewed media environments and concludes by calling for a new policy paradigm based around redistribution that aims to reconstruct media systems in order to undermine the appeal of populist forces on the far right.
The Alt-Right and Global Information Warfare
2019 Bevensee, E. and Reid Ross, A. Article
The Alt-Right is a neo-fascist white supremacist movement that is involved in violent extremism and shows signs of engagement in extensive disinformation campaigns. Using social media data mining, this study develops a deeper understanding of such targeted disinformation campaigns and the ways they spread. It also adds to the available literature on the endogenous and exogenous influences within the US far right, as well as motivating factors that drive disinformation campaigns, such as geopolitical strategy. This study is to be taken as a preliminary analysis to indicate future methods and follow-on research that will help develop an integrated approach to understanding the strategies and associations of the modern fascist movement.
Online Radicalization and Social Media: A Case Study of Daesh
2017 Kadivar, J. Article
The importance of the Internet and social media in politics has been demonstrated in previous years, when terms such as ‘Twitter revolution’ and ‘Facebook revolution’ were used repeatedly for several movements, and now new terms such as ‘digital threat’ and ‘digital Jihad’ are being used by many in similar fashion. In the age of the Internet, the advantages often associated with the democratizing effect of the Internet are creating an atmosphere for different users, such as Daesh. Global propaganda is an important part of Daesh’s activities, and radicalization is one of the realities of our era. Although the impact of the Internet and social media on processes of people’s radicalization remains a highly contested subject and has been one of the most controversial topics during the last decade, the main question is whether the Internet is the main factor in the radicalization of civilians, considering that some politicians and pundits have been discussing this issue over the past few years, or it is more of a communication tool, facilitator and catalyst, pushing people towards radicalization. In this article, I discuss two different approaches to the relationship between technology (online activities in different platforms) and radicalization. This article is part of an ongoing research project.
Measuring The Evolution Of Radical Right Wing Posting Behaviors Online
2018 Scrivens, R. Article
Researchers have previously explored how right-wing extremists build a collective identity online by targeting their perceived “threat,” but little is known about how this “us” versus “them” dynamic evolves over time. This study uses a sentiment analysis-based algorithm that adapts criminal career measures, as well as semi-parametric group-based modeling, to evaluate how users’ anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and anti-LGBTQ posting behaviors develop on a sub-forum of the most conspicuous white supremacy forum. The results highlight the extent to which authors target their key adversaries over time, as well as the applicability of a criminal career approach in measuring radical posting trajectories online.