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 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.


Full Listing

"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.
Cyber-routines, Political Attitudes, and Exposure to Violence-Advocating Online Extremism
2019 Hawdon, J., Bernatzky, C. and Costello, M. Article
The Internet’s relatively unfettered transmission of information risks exposing individuals to extremist content. Using online survey data (N = 768) of American youth and young adults, we examine factors that bring individuals into contact with online material advocating violence. Combining aspects of social structure-social learning theory with insights from routine activity theory, we find that exposure to violence-advocating materials is positively correlated with online behaviors, including the use of social media platforms and the virtual spaces individuals frequent. Target antagonism is also correlated with exposure to violence-advocating materials, but guardianship and online and offline associations are not. Finally, feelings of dissatisfaction with major social institutions and economic disengagement are associated with exposure to violent materials online.
Prototype and Analytics for Discovery and Exploitation of Threat Networks on Social Media
2019 Simek, O., Shah, D. and Heier, A. Article
Identifying and profiling threat actors are high priority tasks for a number of governmental organizations. These threat actors may operate actively, using the Internet to promote propaganda, recruit new members, or exert command and control over their networks. Alternatively, threat actors may operate passively, demonstrating operational security awareness online while using their Internet presence to gather information they need to pose an offline physical threat. This paper presents a flexible new prototype system that allows analysts to automatically detect, monitor and characterize threat actors and their networks using publicly available information. The proposed prototype system fills a need in the intelligence community for a capability to automate manual construction and analysis of online threat networks. Leveraging graph sampling approaches, we perform targeted data collection of extremist social media accounts and their networks. We design and incorporate new algorithms for role classification and radicalization detection using insights from social science literature of extremism. Additionally, we develop and implement analytics to facilitate monitoring the dynamic social networks over time. The prototype also incorporates several novel machine learning algorithms for threat actor discovery and characterization, such as classification of user posts into discourse categories, user post summaries and gender prediction.
Challenges and Frontiers in Abusive Content Detection
2019 Vidgen, B., Harris, A., Nguyen, D., Tromble, R., Hale, S. and Margetts, H. Article
Online abusive content detection is an inherently difficult task. It has received considerable attention from academia, particularly within the computational linguistics community, and performance appears to have improved as the field has matured. However, considerable challenges and unaddressed frontiers remain, spanning technical, social and ethical dimensions. These issues constrain the performance, efficiency and generalizability of abusive content detection systems. In this article we delineate and clarify the main challenges and frontiers in the field, critically evaluate their implications and discuss potential solutions. We also highlight ways in which social scientific insights can advance research. We discuss the lack of support given to researchers working with abusive content and provide guidelines for ethical research.
Hate Speech and Radicalisation Online The OCCI Research Report
2019 Baldauf, J., Ebner, J. and Guhl, J. (Eds.) Report
The research series Hate Speech and Radicalisation on the Internet provides interdisciplinary insights into the current developments of extremist activities on the internet. With the aid of expert contributions from all over Germany, the psychological, political, anthropological and technological aspects of online hate speech and radicalisation will be considered and recommendations will be made for political leaders, social media platforms as well as NGOs and activists.
Misogynistic Men Online: How the Red Pill Helped Elect Trump
2019 Dignam, A.P. and Rohlinger, D.A. Article
Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory was a shock for feminist scholars, yet it was no surprise to his legion of supporters in alt-right digital spaces. In this essay, we analyze one of the online forums that helped propel Trump to electoral victory. Drawing on social movement concepts and an analysis of 1,762 posts, we show how leaders of the forum the “Red Pill” were able to move a community of adherents from understanding men’s rights as a personal philosophy to political action. This transition was no small endeavor. The Red Pill forum was explicitly apolitical until the summer before the 2016 election. During the election, forum leaders linked the forum’s neoliberal, misogynistic collective identity of alpha masculinity to Trump’s public persona and framed his political ascendance as an opportunity to effectively push back against feminism and get a “real” man into the White House. We argue that while previous research shows the importance of alt-right virtual spaces in creating and maintaining racist collective identities, we know very little about how men conceptualize gender in ways that inform their personal and political action—and this is to our detriment. We conclude the essay by arguing that feminists need to understand how men cultivate extreme personal and political identities in online forums so that we can better understand how new technologies are used to move individuals from the armchair to the streets.
“Deplorable” Satire: Alt-Right Memes, White Genocide Tweets, and Redpilling Normies.
2019 Greene, V.S. Article
In the past decade, people associated with what is known as the alt-right have employed a strategy similar to that of progressive, antiracist satirists to advance a decidedly white supremacist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and deadly serious agenda. As this article documents, the alt-right weaponizes irony to attract and radicalize potential supporters, challenge progressive ideologies and institutions, redpill normies, and create a toxic counterpublic. Discussing examples of satiric irony generated by the extreme right alongside those produced by the (often mainstream) left, this article pairs two satirical memes, two activists' use of irony, two ambiguously satirical tweets, and two recent controversies pertaining to racism and satire so as to illustrate how people with very different political commitments employ a similar style with potent effects. Of particular significance are reverse racism discourses, including "white genocide," and the increasingly complicated relationship between intentions, extremism, and satire.
The Kids Are Alt-Right: The Intellectual Origins of the Alt-Right
2019 Jones, A.W. PhD Thesis
The electoral success and increased media presence of the Far-Right ideology known as the Alternative Right has catapulted the once marginal fringe movement into popular political discourse. The term Alternative Right is used in contrast to Alt-Right, which is a specific subsection of the broader Alt-Right who are associated with Richard Spencer. This dissertation examines the theories that make up the Alternative Right by addressing the question: How have the divergent political theory traditions of the Alternative Right coalesced into a new reactionary political ideology?The first half of the dissertation defines the Alternative Right and the historical context for the movement. The dissertation defines the Alternative Right by its axioms of the right to difference, the primacy of cultural metapolitics and hierarchical individualism. The second half examines the four major intellectual influences of the Alternative Right: The Techno-libertarians know as the Grey Tribe, NeoReactionary Thought, the European New Right and the American White Nationalists. The dissertation concludes that the divergent political theory of the Alternative Right is unified based on its shared reactionary values, its break from American liberal-conservativism and a consistent focus on the literature of radicalization and critique. The goal of the Alternative Right is a rebirth of racial/gendered consciousness and a new American/European renaissance.
Extreme Speech: The Digital Traces of #whitegenocide and Alt-Right Affective Economies of Transgression
2019 Deem, A. Article
This article explores how the notion of “extreme speech” can advocate a context-specific, practice-oriented approach to alt-right digital culture while also foregrounding its imbrication in larger histories of racial formation. Designating the popular White-nationalist hashtag #whitegenocide as an alt-right structure of feeling, it uses a data-critical discourse on “digital traces” to support a form of social media ethnography that traces affective communication practices online. Bringing this framework to the analysis of top #whitegenocide retweets, it elaborates the functioning of alt-right affective economies of transgression, which, driven by reactionary irony and a sense of race-based threat, contribute to shaping civil discourse and defining Whiteness in digital spaces. Finally, it investigates how the locative and corporal traces left by individual #whitegenocide retweeters both shape and are shaped by larger affective economies of transgression.
Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online: Results of the 4th monitoring exercise
2019 European Commission Policy
To prevent and counter the spread of illegal hate speech online, in May 2016, the Commission agreed with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube a “Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online”. The implementation of the Code of Conduct is evaluated through a regular monitoring exercise set up in collaboration with a network of organisations located in the different EU countries. Using a commonly agreed methodology, these organisations test how the IT companies are implementing the commitments in the Code.
Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online: Progress 2016-2019
2019 European Commission Policy
To prevent and counter the spread of illegal hate speech online, in May 2016, the Commission agreed with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube a “Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online”. The implementation of the Code of Conduct is evaluated through a regular monitoring exercise set up in collaboration with a network of organisations located in the different EU countries. Using a commonly agreed methodology, these organisations test how the IT companies are implementing the commitments in the Code.
Make America Meme Again: The Rhetoric of the Alt-Right
2019 Hahner, L.A. Book
As demonstrated by the 2016 presidential election, memes have become the suasory tactic par excellence for the promotional and recruitment efforts of the Alt-right. Memes are not simply humorous shorthands or pithy assertions, but play a significant role in the machinations of politics and how the public comes to understand and respond to their government and compatriots. Using the tools of rhetorical criticism, the authors detail how memetic persuasion operates, with a particular focus on the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump. Make America Meme Again reveals the rhetorical principles used to design Alt-right memes, outlining the myriad ways memes lure mainstream audiences to a number of extremist claims. In particular, this book argues that Alt-right memes impact the culture of digital boards and broader public culture by stultifying discourse, thereby shaping how publics congeal. The authors demonstrate that memes are a mechanism that proliferate white nationalism and exclusionary politics by spreading algorithmically through network cultures in ways that are often difficult to discern. Alt-right memes thus present a significant threat to democratic praxis, one that can begin to be combatted through a rigorous rhetorical analysis of their power and influence. Make America Meme Again illuminates the function of networked persuasion for scholars and practitioners of rhetoric, media, and communication; political theorists; digital humanists; and anyone who has ever seen, crafted, or proliferated a meme.
Fascists among us: Online Hate and the Christchurch Massacre
2019 Sparrow, J. Book
The massacre of more than fifty worshippers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shocked the world. The murders were not random. They expressed a particular ideology, one that the alleged perpetrator described as ‘fascism’. But what does fascism mean today — and what kind of threat does it pose? Jeff Sparrow traces the history of the far right, showing how fascists have adapted to the new politics of the twenty-first century. Burgeoning in dark places online, contemporary fascism exults in violence and picks its targets strategically. Today, it is Muslims; tomorrow, it will be Jews or gays or Asians. With imitative massacres already occurring around the world, Christchurch must be a wake-up call. This book makes a compelling, urgent case for a new response to an old menace.
A comparative analysis of right-wing radical and Islamist communities’ strategies for survival in social networks (evidence from the Russian social network VKontakte)
2019 Myagkov, M., Shchekotin, E.V., Chudinov, S.I. and Goiko, V.L. Article
This article presents a comparative analysis of online communities of right-wing radicals and Islamists, who are considered to be numerous and dangerous extremist groups in Russian society. The online communities were selected based on the content posted on the largest Russian social networking site VKontakte. The goal of this article is to determine the strategy and tactics employed by extremist online communities for survival on social networking sites. The authors discovered that both right-wing radical and Islamist groups employ similar behavioural techniques, with the mimicry of ideologically neutral content as the most common. In addition, every extremist community also applies some unique methods. For example, if there is a risk of being blocked, right-wing radicals tend to shift their activity and communication to the other internet-based platforms that are not under state control; however, Islamists prefer to suddenly change the content of their communities (i.e. by using secondary mimicry).
Security sector practitioner perceptions of the terror threat environment before the Christchurch attacks
2019 Battersby, J. Article
On 15 March 2019, Brenton Tarrant destroyed New Zealand’s perception of its low threat terrorist risk. Security sector practitioners interviewed for this study before 15 March spoke about the challenges of performing counter terrorism roles in that low threat environment. Their perceptions revealed a fear that terrorist attacks occurring overseas, would sooner or later occur in New Zealand. Their roles were complicated by an overarching sense of social, bureaucratic and political complacency toward the threat of terrorism. They perceived legislative inertia, which fettered the powers and resources agencies had to effectively act against the risks they believed were present. Despite these barriers, security sector agencies continued to look for possible emerging threats across a spectrum of risk, but relied on improvised use of existing legislation to manage it. This was more effective against those motivated by militant jihadism, and as Tarrant demonstrated, less so against other threats. Community engagement was needed and successfully achieved, although difficulties were observed which need to be addressed, and the media was perceived as having an undue influence over New Zealand’s security priorities, highlighting the need for a national counter terrorism strategy.
Psychology and morality of political extremists: evidence from Twitter language analysis of alt-right and Antifa
2019 Alizadeh, M., Weber, I., Cioffi-Revilla, C., Fortunato, S. and Macy, M. Article
The recent rise of the political extremism in Western countries has spurred renewed interest in the psychological and moral appeal of political extremism. Empirical support for the psychological explanation using surveys has been limited by lack of access to extremist groups, while field studies have missed psychological measures and failed to compare extremists with contrast groups. We revisit the debate over the psychological and moral appeal of extremism in the U.S. context by analyzing Twitter data of 10,000 political extremists and comparing their text-based psychological constructs with those of 5000 liberal and 5000 conservative users. The results reveal that extremists show a lower positive emotion and a higher negative emotion than partisan users, but their differences in certainty is not significant. In addition, while left-wing extremists express more language indicative of anxiety than liberals, right-wing extremists express lower anxiety than conservatives. Moreover, our results mostly lend support to Moral Foundations Theory for partisan users and extend it to the political extremists. With the exception of ingroup loyalty, we found evidences supporting the Moral Foundations Theory among left- and right-wing extremists. However, we found no evidence for elevated moral foundations among political extremists.
Online Hate: From the Far-Right to the ‘Alt-Right’ and from the Margins to the Mainstream
2019 Winter, A. Chapter
In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was much discussion about the democratic and anti-democratic implications of the Internet. The latter particularly focused on the ways in which the far-right were using the Internet to spread hate and recruit members. Despite this common assumption, the American far-right did not harness the Internet quickly, effectively or widely. More recently, however, they have experienced a resurgence and mainstreaming, benefitting greatly from social media. This chapter examines the history of their use of the Internet with respect to: (1) how this developed in response to political changes and emerging technologies; (2) how it reflected and changed the status of such movements and their brand of hate; and (3) the relationship between online activity and traditional methods of communication.
(((They))) rule: Memetic antagonism and nebulous othering on 4chan
2019 Tuters, M. and Hagen, S. Article
Previously theorised as vehicles for expressing progressive dissent, this article considers how political memes have become entangled in the recent reactionary turn of web subcultures. Drawing on Chantal Mouffe’s work on political affect, this article examines how online anonymous communities use memetic literacy, memetic abstraction, and memetic antagonism to constitute themselves as political collectives. Specifically, it focuses on how the subcultural and highly reactionary milieu of 4chan’s /pol/ board does so through an anti-Semitic meme called triple parentheses. In aggregating the contents of this peculiar meme from a large dataset of /pol/ comments, the article finds that /pol/ users, or anons, tend to use the meme to formulate a nebulous out-group resonant with populist demagoguery.
Esoteric Fascism Online: 4chan and the Kali Yuga
2019 Tuters, M. Chapter
This chapter scrutinises how it is that anonymous chan culture engage with the alt-histories of esoteric fascism. To this end, the chapter begins with a brief description of the ideas of the mid-century Italian esotericist ‘Baron’ Julius Evola (arguably the single most significant intellectual influence esoteric fascism), before moving on to discuss anon’s vernacular interpretation of these ideas. In order to assess the ‘real world’ danger posed by these alt-histories, the essay concludes with a brief analysis of the particularly disturbing case of the Christchurch mass shooter whose manifesto was replete with anonymous chan culture and whom appears to have imagined himself as a holy warrior engaged fighting against ‘the great replacement’ of Western culture by alien outsiders—a notion which connects extreme-right terrorists with the discourse of new-right populist politicians and intellectuals.
Stereotypical Bias Removal for Hate Speech Detection Task using Knowledge-based Generalizations
2019 Badjatiya, P., Gupta, M. and Varma, V. Article
With the ever-increasing cases of hate spread on social media platforms, it is critical to design abuse detection mechanisms to pro-actively avoid and control such incidents. While there exist methods for hate speech detection, they stereotype words and hence suffer from inherently biased training. Bias removal has been traditionally studied for structured datasets, but we aim at bias mitigation from unstructured text data. In this paper, we make two important contributions. First, we systematically design methods to quantify the bias for any model and propose algorithms for identifying the set of words which the model stereotypes. Second, we propose novel methods leveraging knowledge-based generalizations for bias-free learning. Knowledge-based generalization provides an effective way to encode knowledge because the abstraction they provide not only generalizes content but also facilitates retraction of information from the hate speech detection classifier, thereby reducing the imbalance. We experiment with multiple knowledge generalization policies and analyze their effect on general performance and in mitigating bias. Our experiments with two real-world datasets, a Wikipedia Talk Pages dataset (WikiDetox) of size ~ 96k and a Twitter dataset of size ~ 24k, show that the use of knowledge-based generalizations results in better performance by forcing the classifier to learn from generalized content. Our methods utilize existing knowledge-bases and can easily be extended to other tasks.