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
Finding the Far Right Online: An Explanatory study of White Supremacist Websites
2009 Sutton, M. and Wright, C. Journal
White supremacists and the Far Right political movement in the UK have, had considerable success in spreading their messages through Web sites. Some of these Web sites clearly contribute to an enabling environment for racially motivated violence in our towns and cities and possibly help to underpin also the rise of, and support for, the Far Right in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. From a position that acknowledges the enduring issue of white hegemony in Western societies, this paper provides a number of research-based recommendations for further research and future policy and practice in tackling white supremacist racial hatred on the Net.
Social Media as a Tool of Hybrid Warfare
2016 Svetloka, S., Reynolds, A., Curika, L. Report
The development of information technology has changed the nature of conflicts by creating an additional layer of complexity to traditional battle spaces. Nearly global access to the virtual environment has created numerous opportunities to conduct battles online affecting events in both the physical domain, such as computer systems, and in the cognitive domain of people’s attitudes and beliefs. Recently we have witnessed how both states and non-state actors use hybrid approaches to pursue their political and military aims, skilfully combining military operations with cyber-attacks, diplomatic and/or economic pressure, and information (propaganda) campaigns. Over the past decade, social media has rapidly grown into one of the main channels of communication used today. Virtual communication platforms have become an integral part of warfare strategy. The recent conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine have demonstrated that social media is widely used to coordinate actions, collect information, and, most importantly, to influence the beliefs and attitudes of target audiences, even mobilise them for action. Given this state of affairs, the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (NATO StratCom COE) was tasked with looking into how state and non-state actors leverage social media as a tool for conflict and hybrid warfare strategies. The following topics will be addressed in the report:
• What is the role of social media in hybrid warfare? How is it ‘weaponised’?
• What techniques and tactics do state and non-state actors employ to support their political and military aims using social media? What effects can they achieve?
• What can NATO and its member nations do to identify and counter the malicious use of social media?
We hope that this paper will serve as a comprehensive introduction and useful educational material for anyone interested in understanding the complexity of today’s information environment, and specifically the techniques of influence used in the digital space. The report summarises the conclusions of research commissioned by the StratCom COE—Internet trolling as hybrid warfare tool: the case of Latvia by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA) in cooperation with Riga Stradiņš University,1 Social influence in Russia-Ukraine-conflictrelated communication in social media by a team of Polish researchers,2 Network of terror: how Daesh uses adaptive social networks to spread its message by Joseph Shaheen, US State Department Fellow at the StratCom COE, as well as discussions from the seminars and conferences conducted by the COE over the course of 2015.
Pro-Violence and Anti-Democratic Messages on the Internet
2013 Swedish Media Council Report
Foreword-The standard media image of violent extremism may seem to be far from the ordinary work of the Swedish Media Council. While extremism is often described in dramatic terms of terrorism, attacks and riots, the Council’s work concerns more everyday things, such as age limits for cinema films and media awareness teaching in pre-school. But no person is born to be a perpetrator of violence for political or religious purposes. Being recruited to and radicalised within the framework of pro-violence
and anti-democratic extremist groups is a question of adopting, more or less uncritically, an image of the world where hate is the driving force and violence the legitimate means. In today’s information society, the Internet has become, to an ever increasing extent, the tool for spreading anti-democratic messages for the purpose of recruiting new members. This fact places great demands on people young and old to retain a critical view of information and sometime sharply angled messages that we come across in both traditional and digital media. In October 2011, the Government mandated the Swedish Media Council to describe the presence of anti-democratic messages on the Internet and in social media. The focus is on messages aimed at young persons, and that encourage violence for political or ideological reasons. The aim is to create broader knowledge about extremist Internet milieu, their content, and how recruitment strategies
are formulated and communicated. The overall purpose is to strengthen young persons in preparation for encounters with such messages.
Filtering, Blocking and Take-Down of Illegal Content on the Internet
2015 Swiss Institute of Comparative Law Report
The Council of Europe commissioned to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law a comparative study in respect of filtering, blocking and take-down of illegal content on the Internet in the 47 member States of the Organisation. This study describes and assesses the legal framework but also the relevant case-law and practice in the field. It is divided in two main parts: country reports and comparative considerations.
Countering Violent Extremism Online and Offline
2017 Szmania, S., Fincher P. Journal
In the wake of devastating attacks by violent extremists around the world, policy makers have invested considerable effort into understanding terrorists’ use of the Internet as they radicalize and mobilize to violence. To that end, the article “Terrorist Use of the Internet by the Numbers: Quantifying Behaviors, Patterns, and Processes” by Paul Gill, Emily Corner, Maura Conway, Amy Thornton, Mia Bloom, and John Horgan (2017, this issue) contributes important data to a timely policy discussion. The authors’ central finding, “that there is no easy offline versus online violent radicalization dichotomy to be drawn,” highlights a gap in our current conceptualization of the radicalization process and suggests several implications, particularly for countering violent extremism (CVE) policies and programs.
Terrorism, Islamophobia, And Radicalization
2017 Tamar, M. PhD Thesis
Why do ordinary people become supportive of violent, extremist ideologies? Over the past several years, tens of thousands of individuals across the world have become attracted to propaganda disseminated by the Islamic State (ISIS), and many have left their home countries to join the organization. This dissertation closely examines possible explanations for pro-ISIS radicalization in Europe and the United States. I argue that anti-Muslim hostility is an important driver of pro-ISIS radicalization, leading individuals who feel isolated to become attracted to the organization's propaganda. I also contend that groups like ISIS are aware of this pattern, and thus seek to purposefully provoke hostility against potential supporters by carrying out terrorist attacks. I maintain that efforts to stop radicalization should focus on ways to reduce hostility and increase the inclusion of minorities in the West. The various dissertation papers empirically examine different aspects of these arguments. In the first paper, I examine whether anti-Muslim hostility might be driving pro-ISIS radicalization in Europe, by analyzing the online activity of thousands of ISIS sympathizers in France, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Matching online radicalization indicators with offline data on vote share for far-right, anti-Muslim parties, I show that the intensity of anti-Muslim hostility at the local (neighborhood/municipality) level strongly correlates with support for ISIS on Twitter. In addition, I show that events that stir anti-Muslim sentiments, such as terrorist attacks and anti-Muslim protests, lead ISIS sympathizers to significantly increase pro-ISIS rhetoric, especially in areas with high far-right support. In the second paper, I argue that armed groups strategically use terrorism to manipulate levels of anti-Muslim hostility in Western countries. I test whether terrorism leads to greater expressions of anti-Muslim hostility using data on thirty-six terrorist attacks perpetrated by radical jihadists in the West from 2010 to 2016, examining how they shaped anti-Muslim attitudes among individuals in targeted countries. I find that individuals systematically and significantly increase the posting of anti-Muslim content on social media after exposure to terrorism. The effect spikes immediately after attacks, decays over time, but remains significantly higher than pre-attack levels up to a month after the events. The results also reveal that the impact of terrorist attacks on anti-Muslim rhetoric is similar for individuals who already expressed hostility to Muslims before the attacks and those who did not. Finally, I observe that the impact of terrorist attacks on anti-Muslim hostility increases with attacks resulting in greater numbers of casualties.  In the third paper, I examine what might be done to stop online radicalization and support for ISIS in the West. I collected data on community engagement events performed in the United States by the Obama Administration, which aimed to increase trust and relationships between the Muslim population and the American government, and combined them with high-frequency, geo-located panel data on tens of thousands of individuals in America who follow Islamic State accounts on Twitter. By analyzing over 100 community engagement events in a Difference-in-Differences design, I find that community engagement activities are systematically and significantly associated with a reduction in pro-ISIS rhetoric on Twitter among individuals located in event areas. In addition, the observed negative relationship between community engagement activities and pro-ISIS rhetoric is stronger in areas that held a large number of these events.
A Multimodal Mixed Methods Approach for Examining Recontextualisation Patterns of Violent Extremist Images in Online Media
2018 Tan, S., O'Halloran, K.L., Wignell, P., Chai., K., Lange, R. Journal
This paper uses a multimodal mixed methods approach for exploring general recontextualisation patterns of violent extremist images in online media. Specifically, the paper reports on the preliminary findings of a preliminary study which investigates various patterns in the reuse of images which appear in ISIS’s official propaganda magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah by others across various public online media platforms (e.g. news websites, social media news aggregates, blogs). Using a mixed methods approach informed by multimodal discourse analysis, and combined with data mining and information visualisation, the study addresses questions such as which types of images produced and used by ISIS in its propaganda magazines recirculate most frequently in other online media over time, on which types of online media these images reappear, and in which contexts they are used and reused on these websites, that is that is, whether the tone of the message is corporate (formal) or personal (informal). Preliminary findings from the study suggest different recontextualisation patterns for certain types of ISIS-related images of over time. The study also found that the majority of violent extremist images used in the sample analysis appear to circulate most frequently on Western news and politics websites and news aggregate platforms, in predominantly formal contexts.
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
Promises Of Paradise? - A Study On Official ISIS-Propaganda Targeting Women
2016 Tarras-Wahlberg, L. MA Thesis
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 close to 30 000 foreign recruits from more than 100countries have migrated to the area of Iraq and Syria in support of the terrorist organization this thesis will refer to as ISIS. Among those traveling is a historically unprecedented number of women. Why women are drawn to violent Islamic extremist groups is rather unexplored. Through a qualitative text analysis of official ISIS-propaganda, this thesis investigates what promises the organization makes to women, examining pull-factors derived from social media studies of female migration to ISIS-held territories. The thesis concludes that women are promised the possibility to fulfill their religious duty, become important state builders, experience deep and meaningful belonging and sisterhood, to live an exciting adventure and find true romance, as well as being increasingly influential is also promised. Official propaganda does not make explicit promises to women of exerting violence. A secondary purpose of the thesis is to assess the potential risk that ISIS-affiliated women returning to the West, pose to society. This thesis further concludes that women who gain limited knowledge of handling weapons and explosives in ISIS-territory are not probable participants in armed terrorist attacks directed towards the West. However, through increased social networks acquired while in Syria or Iraq, women may play an important supporting role in the process of planning, crowdfunding and executing attacks. Based on these findings the thesis provides some gender-specific policy proposals intended to counter the recruitment of women to ISIS.
The Italian Extreme Right On-line Network: An Exploratory Study Using an Integrated Social Network Analysis and Content Analysis Approach
2006 Tateo, L. Journal
All over the world, extreme right activists and neo-nazis are using the Internet as a tool for communication and recruitment in order to avoid national laws and police investigations. The last 10 years have seen both the diffusion of CMC environments and the rise of extreme right movements in several European countries. This study investigates the structure of the Italian extreme right network, taking into account the latest trends in the social psychology of CMC to describe the nature of ties among Italian extreme right websites.
Surfacing Contextual Hate Speech Words Within Social Media
2017 Taylor, J. Peignon, M., and Chen, Y. Journal
Social media platforms have recently seen an increase in the occurrence of hate speech discourse which has led to calls for improved detection methods. Most of these rely on annotated data, keywords, and a classification technique. While this approach provides good coverage, it can fall short when dealing with new terms produced by online extremist communities which act as original sources of words which have alternate hate speech meanings. These code words (which can be both created and adopted words) are designed to evade automatic detection and often have benign meanings in regular discourse. As an example, "skypes", "googles", and "yahoos" are all instances of words which have an alternate meaning that can be used for hate speech. This overlap introduces additional challenges when relying on keywords for both the collection of data that is specific to hate speech, and downstream classification. In this work, we develop a community detection approach for finding extremist hate speech communities and collecting data from their members. We also develop a word embedding model that learns the alternate hate speech meaning of words and demonstrate the candidacy of our code words with several annotation experiments, designed to determine if it is possible to recognize a word as being used for hate speech without knowing its alternate meaning. We report an inter-annotator agreement rate of K=0.871, and K=0.676 for data drawn from our extremist community and the keyword approach respectively, supporting our claim that hate speech detection is a contextual task and does not depend on a fixed list of keywords. Our goal is to advance the domain by providing a high quality hate speech dataset in addition to learned code words that can be fed into existing classification approaches, thus improving the accuracy of automated detection.
Criminogenic Qualities Of The Internet
2015 Taylor, M. Journal
ABSTRACT- This paper initially identifies a number of critical distinctions that might help our understanding of the relationship between Internet use and terrorism. It then develops the notion of complex global microstructures as a useful conceptual aid to
understanding how people interact with the Internet in general, and to terrorism in
particular. Parallels are identified between various inappropriate, risky and dangerous
uses of the Internet which are argued to point to a degree of commonality of effect. The
paper concludes by suggesting that some forms of user interaction with the Internet
suggest the Internet may have criminogenic qualities.
An Introduction by the Editors
2015 Taylor, M., Horgan, J. and Sageman, M. Journal
An introductory note of the Journal 'Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflicts'
The Online Regulation Series | Turkey
2020 Tech Against Terrorism Report
Online content regulation in Turkey is characterised by extensive removal of material that has resulted in a large number of Turkish and international websites being blocked in recent years. Further, the Turkish government recently introduced a Social Media Bill, implementing a wide range of new regulations and steep penalties for social media companies, which critics say poses further threats to online freedom of expression in the country.
The Online Regulation Series | The European Union
2020 Tech Against Terrorism Report
The European Union (EU) is an influential voice in the global debate on regulation of online speech. For that reason, two upcoming regulatory regimes might – in addition to shaping EU digital policy – create global precedents for how to regulate both online speech generally and terrorist content specifically.
The Online Regulation Series | Kenya
2020 Tech Against Terrorism Report
Kenya has “increasingly sought to remove online content”, both through requests and increased regulation, that it deems “immoral” or “defamatory”. Following terrorist attacks on civilian targets in recent years, the country has heightened its efforts around counterterrorism as well as online content regulation. Many of Kenya’s legislations have been criticised by civil society for their “broadness”, “vagueness”, and potential “detrimental implications for freedom of expression”. A proposed social media bill, if enacted, could largely impact social media companies and their users in Kenya, such as through strict regulations on user content.
The Online Regulation Series | The Philippines
2020 Tech Against Terrorism Report
The Philippines is one of the countries worst affected by terrorism in the world, ranking as the ninth most affected country in the 2019 Global Terrorist Index. The country has long been investing in its counterterrorism apparatus and there have been some signs that the Philippines might introduce legislation that targets online terrorist content. This is to be understood in the context of a growing internet penetration rate and increased use of social media (+8.6% in 2019-2020), coupled with growing concerns for how terrorists use the internet in the country.
The Online Regulation Series | Singapore
2020 Tech Against Terrorism Report
Singapore is often deemed to be Asia’s main tech hub and a top global alternative to the Silicon Valley. Many of the world’s major tech platforms – including GIFCT founders Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Youtube – have their headquarters for the Asia Pacific region in the Singapore. The government has been active in supporting the tech sector, advocating for an approach that promotes industry self-regulation and strong intellectual property laws.
The Online Regulation Series | India
2020 Tech Against Terrorism Report
With almost 500 million Internet users, and a history of mis- and disinformation spreading on social media and messaging apps and occasionally resulting in violence, content moderation has been a pressing issue in India for quite some time. Regulation of content is covered by different legislations under the Indian Penal Code, the Information Technology Act (ITA), and Criminal Procedure Code, and shortly under the Framework and Guideline for use of Social Media.

Terrorist use of the internet in India is mostly regulated through the criminalisation of cybercrime, covered by Section 66F of the Information Technology Act, which regulates cybercrimes and electronic commerce.
The Online Regulation Series | Pakistan
2020 Tech Against Terrorism Report
Over the last five years, Pakistan has introduced various measures aimed at regulating terrorist content online, including the 2020 Citizen Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules which directly targets content posted on social media, and the 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act which prohibits use of the internet for terrorist purposes.

These regulations supplement the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 (ATA) that provides the baseline legal framework for counterterrorism measures in the country. The ATA does not specifically target terrorist use of the internet, however, it considers the dissemination of digital content “which glorifies terrorists or terrorist activities” to be an offence – under section 11W. The same section also prohibits the dissemination of content that incite to hatred or “gives projection” to a terrorist actor.