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
Crisis and Loss of Control: German-Language Digital Extremism in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic
2020 Guhl, J. and Gerster, L. Report
This report analyses the networks and narratives of German-speaking far-right, far-left and Islamist extremist actors on mainstream and alternative social media platforms and extremist websites in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results show: Extremists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been able to increase their reach since the introduction of the lockdown measures.
Jihadist, Far-right And Far-left Terrorism In Cyberspace – Same Threat And Same Countermeasures?
2020 Ingelevič-Citak, M. and Przyszlak, Z. Article
This paper investigates whether the counter-terrorism measures developed and implemented within the European Union have a universal character and are equally effective in the context of various types of terrorism. The authors focus on the strategies applicable to the terrorist activities online, since information and communication technology is perceived as the fastest growing and continually changing field of the terrorist threat. So far, most of the counteractions and security strategies have been subordinated to the jihadism combating. However, in recent years, the significant growth of threats coming from far-right and far-left terrorist activities has been observed. It raises questions about the capability of instruments to prevent and combat other types of terrorism as well as jihadism. The research was conducted in particular, on the basis of international organizations' reports, the authors' observations, and practitioners' remarks. As follows from its results, there are significant differences in the phenomenon, current trends, and modus operandi of the perpetrators in the jihadi, far-right, and far-left terrorism. Consequently, it is possible to conclude that the effectiveness of chosen countermeasures, subordinated - as a rule – to the fighting of the jihadi extremists, is doubtful in preventing and combating far-right and far-left terrorism.
Unity Starts with U: A Case Study of a Counter-Hate Campaign Through the Use of Social Media Platforms
2020 Leung, C. and Frank, R. Article
Hate has been a growing concern with hate-groups and individuals using the Internet, or more specifically, social media platforms, to globalize hate. Since these social media platforms can connect users around the world, hate-organizations are using these connections as opportunities to recruit candidates and spread their propaganda. Without opposing views, these extreme viewpoints can establish themselves as legitimate and then be used to incite hate in individuals. Thus, these extreme viewpoints must be countered by similar messages to discourage this online hate, and one such way is to use the same platforms through grassroots movements. This paper presents a case study which was conducted on a class of Criminology students who implemented a grassroots community-based campaign called Unity Starts with U (USwithU) to counter-hate in a community by using social media platforms to spread messages of inclusion and share experiences. The results from the campaign showed improvements on people’s attitude towards hate at the local community level. Based on literature and this campaign, policy recommendations are suggested for policymakers to consider when creating or making improvements on counter-narrative programs.
The ‘tarrant effect’: what impact did far-right attacks have on the 8chan forum?
2020 Baele, S.J., Brace, L. and Coan, T.G. Article
This paper analyses the impact of a series of mass shootings committed in 2018–2019 by right-wing extremists on 8chan/pol, a prominent far-right online forum. Using computational methods, it offers a detailed examination of how attacks trigger shifts in both forum activity and content. We find that while each shooting is discussed by forum participants, their respective impact varies considerably. We highlight, in particular, a ‘Tarrant effect’: the considerable effect Brenton Tarrant’s attack of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, had on the forum. Considering the rise in far-right terrorism and the growing and diversifying online far-right ecosystem, such interactive offline-online effects warrant the attention of scholars and security professionals.
Podcast ethnography
2020 Lundström, M. and Lundström, T.P. Article
This article introduces the method of podcast ethnography. The method encompasses three general stages: to explore a podcast from a particular social field, to engage with it through careful, ethnographic reflexivity and to examine the podcast by developing typologies and themes expedient for analysis. Podcast ethnography is beneficial due to its spatial and temporal flexibility; observing a podcast universe can be performed on the move and in parallel with other tasks. This advantage enables a much-needed breathing space for researchers inquiring vehement milieus, such as white radical nationalism. The article uses an example from this precise milieu in Sweden – the podcast Motgift [Antidote] – to illustrate and flesh out the potentials and challenges of applying the method’s three stages. In so doing, the article argues for inclusion of podcast ethnography into the extended family of ethnographic methods.
Evaluating the scale, growth, and origins of right-wing echo chambers on YouTube
2020 Hosseinmardi, H., Ghasemian, A., Clauset, A., Rothschild, D.M., Mobius, M. and Watts, D.J. Article
Although it is understudied relative to other social media platforms, YouTube is arguably the largest and most engaging online media consumption platform in the world. Recently, YouTube's outsize influence has sparked concerns that its recommendation algorithm systematically directs users to radical right-wing content. Here we investigate these concerns with large scale longitudinal data of individuals' browsing behavior spanning January 2016 through December 2019. Consistent with previous work, we find that political news content accounts for a relatively small fraction (11%) of consumption on YouTube, and is dominated by mainstream and largely centrist sources. However, we also find evidence for a small but growing "echo chamber" of far-right content consumption. Users in this community show higher engagement and greater "stickiness" than users who consume any other category of content. Moreover, YouTube accounts for an increasing fraction of these users' overall online news consumption. Finally, while the size, intensity, and growth of this echo chamber present real concerns, we find no evidence that they are caused by YouTube recommendations. Rather, consumption of radical content on YouTube appears to reflect broader patterns of news consumption across the web. Our results emphasize the importance of measuring consumption directly rather than inferring it from recommendations.
The “Great Meme War:” the Alt-Right and its Multifarious Enemies
2020 Dafaure, M. Article
In this essay, I discuss how the alt-right has brought back into fashion traditional tenets of the reactionary, xenophobic, and often racist far-right, as demonstrated by George Hawley, and how it has managed to make these tenets appear as novel, provocative, and updated to the 21st century U.S. society and digital environment. I argue that to do so, alt-righters relied heavily on the creation, and sometimes reappropriation, of enemy images, with the ultimate goals of provoking outrage, instilling fear and/or hatred towards specific groups, reinforcing a sense of belonging within their own community, or more broadly manipulating collective perceptions and representations, first online then in real life. Indeed, the election of Donald Trump was hailed by the online alt-right as one of their major successes. With the help of irony, subversion, and often carefully engineered propaganda-like messages and images, the alt-right, it boasts, “meme’d into office” the Republican candidate. This paper consequently leads to an analysis of real-life repercussions of such adversarial rhetoric, notably through examples of recent far-right domestic terrorism in the US, and to a reflection on their place in an age of post-truth, fake news, and alternative facts. This contribution focuses on several enemy images. The first is that of the civilizational enemy from the outside, which uses the traditional process of othering. This theme is linked to Trump’s campaign and to his attacks against two major “enemies” of the U.S., namely Hispanics and Muslims. With the alt-right, refugees for example become “rapefugees,” which easily appeals to rampant islamophobia. The second enemy image created by the alt-right consists in its ideological opponents. Here, the function of the enemy image is to discredit opponents and their views (“cuckservative,” “feminazi,” or the sarcastic “Social Justice Warrior”). The third enemy image establishes a link between the first two. It depicts what I would call the “enemy within,” a common thread (or threat) in far-right ideologies. Indeed, cultural Marxism, a widespread conspiracy theory among the alt-right, is what its proponents believe to be the hidden reason for the perceived decline of the Western civilization. According to this worldview, the ideological opponents push a conspiracy against the West and its values. The recurring claims of a liberal bias among the media and academia also belong to this conspiracy theory. It also embraces elements of anti-Semitism, as well as traditional aspects of anti-communism, reminiscent of the historical Red Scares. Such a theory thus provides its believers with a broader narrative, as well as with a common enemy to rally against, and therefore builds a form of intersectionality among various online fringe groups.
Indonesia: Social Grievances and Violent Extremism
2020 Moonshot CVE Report
Extremist groups’ online recruitment mechanisms frequently exploit the wide range of grievances and vulnerabilities experienced by individuals at-risk of radicalisation. While it is widely accepted that mental health and wellbeing play a vital role in resilience to violent extremism, most approaches tend to focus on preventing violent extremism through purely ideological means and are not sufficiently tailored to the individual at-risk.

In an effort to understand this audience further and, more importantly, the most effective means of preventing violent extremism, Moonshot conducted an experiment to assess the propensity among at-risk users in Indonesia to engage with ideological counter-content compared to psychosocial support content. The data gathered during this pilot indicate that psychosocial support is an area of unmet need among some of the individuals most vulnerable to violent jihadist recruitment online in Indonesia, and that this population is open to engaging with online support.
Facebook Redirect Programme: Moonshot Evaluation
2020 Moonshot CVE Report
The Facebook Redirect Programme (FRP) is designed to combat violent extremism and dangerous organisations by redirecting users who have entered hate or violence-related search queries towards educational resources and outreach groups. A pilot of the programme was launched with delivery partners Life After Hate in May 2019 and Exit Australia in September 2019. It was specifically designed to ensure that individuals searching for white supremacist and/or neo-Nazi communities on Facebook would be offered authentic, meaningful and impactful support off-platform. The purpose of this pilot was to test the programme design and inform future deployments targeting both new geographies and other hate-based communities. Moonshot was contracted by Facebook to evaluate the pilot period of programme performance and make recommendations for future deployments. This report evaluates the pilot programme by examining:
-Facebook’s use of keywords and the safety module as a method of redirecting people off-platform;
-The full user journey from Facebook to delivery partner landing pages;
-The extent to which the pilot can be considered a proof of concept for future deployments.
Tracking far-right extremist searches in Bosnia & Herzegovina
2020 Moonshot CVE Report
Between 20 March and 14 September 2020, Moonshot investigated online far-right extremist searches in Bosnia & Herzegovina by analysing at-risk audience engagement with far-right extremist themes.

Our results show a significant number of searches were for far-right extremist themes relating to the region’s history of ethnic conflict, as well searches for international far-right memes and narratives. Interestingly, we found that at-risk users primarily search for and engage with far-right extremist terms in the English language, seeking out terms which have their roots in the region but are now used internationally, such as ‘Serbia Strong’ and ‘Remove Kebab’.
Cross-national level report on digital sociability and drivers of self-radicalisation in Europe
2020 DARE: Dialogue about Radicalisation and Equality Report
In this report, we present an empirical cross-national study of supporters of right-wing extremists’ (RWE) and Islamist extremists’ (ISE) activities and interactions on Twitter. The study is based on
ethnographic and automatic text and network analyses of data from Belgian, British, Dutch, French, German, Greek and Norwegian female and male Twitter accounts.
The Ontogeny of Online Hate Speech: Do Social Media Platforms Drive Increased Hate or Reflect Existing Prejudices?
2020 Gallacher, J.D. Article
Hate speech is a growing concern online, with minorities and vulnerable groups increasingly targeted with extreme denigration and hostility. Why users express hate speech on social media is unclear. This study explores how this hate speech develops on both mainstream and fringe social media platforms; Facebook and Gab. We investigate whether users seek out hostile areas of these platforms in order to express hate, or whether users develop these opinions through a mechanism of socialisation, as they interact with others over time. We find evidence that some users do arrive on these platforms with pre-existing hate stances, while others develop them with time spent on the platform. We find that hate speech is unevenly distributed, with a small number of users contributing a large proportion of the hate on the platforms. Our analysis reveals how hate speech develops online, the important role of the group environment in accelerating its development and gives insight into the development of counter measures.
The Anti-Hate Brigade: How a Group of Thousands Responds Collectively to Online Vitriol
2020 Buerger, C. Report
#jagärhar is by far the largest and best-organized collective effort to respond directly to hatred online, anywhere in the world, as far as we know. It is also one of only two civil society efforts against hatred online to have been replicated in numerous other countries. In this detailed account of its efforts– the first qualitative study of such a group – Cathy Buerger shares her findings on how and why #jagärhär members do what they do, how working collectively influences members’ ability and willingness to respond to hatred, and how the group’s strategy is carefully designed to take advantage of Facebook’s algorithms and influence ideas and discourse norms among the general public – not necessarily the ones writing the hateful comments.
Global Jihad and International Media Use
2020 Sirgy, M.J., Estes, R.J. and Rahtz, D.R. Chapter
Globalization and international media are potent contributors to the rise of the Islamist global jihad. Widespread digital communication technologies that connect people all over the world are a substantial component of globalization. Over the past three decades, “virtual jihad” has emerged as a potent disseminator of radical religious-political ideologies, instilling fear and fostering instability worldwide. Western and global media, while often misrepresenting Islam and Muslims, have played a significant role in disseminating jihadist ideologies. The involvement of global jihadists (mujāhidīn) across myriad media outlets and platforms has allowed them to promote their agenda around the world. Using the Internet and media outlets, global jihadists are able to attract and recruit people to their ranks in an accelerated manner. Jihadists have engaged in media activities that have empowered and expanded the global jihad movement, even in the face of increased mitigation efforts.
Uncovering the Far-Right Online Ecosystem: An Analytical Framework and Research Agenda
2020 Baele, S.J., Brace, L. and Coan, T.G. Article
Recent years have seen a substantial increase in far-right inspired attacks. In this context, the present article offers an analytical framework for the study of right-wing extremists’ multifaceted and fast-growing activity on the Internet. Specifically, we conceptualize the far-right online presence as a dynamic ecosystem, teasing out four major components that correspond to the different levels of analysis available to future research. We illustrate the benefits of this framework with key illustrative examples from the English-, French-, and German- speaking far-right, revealing the worrying size and breadth – but also heterogeneity – of today’s far-right online ecosystem.
Krise und Kontrollverlust: Digitaler Extremismus im Kontext der Corona-Pandemie
2020 Guhl, J. and Gerster, L. Report
Dieser Report analysiert die Netzwerke und Narrative deutschsprachiger rechtsextremer, linksextremer und islamistisch-extremistischer Akteure auf Mainstream- und alternativen Social-Media-Plattformen sowie extremistischen Websites im Kontext der Corona-Pandemie. Unsere Ergebnisse zeigen: Extremisten aus Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz konnten ihre Reichweite seit der Einführung der Lockdown-Maßnahmen vergrößern.
Deplatforming: Following extreme Internet celebrities to Telegram and alternative social media
2020 Rogers, R. Article
Extreme, anti-establishment actors are being characterized increasingly as ‘dangerous individuals’ by the social media platforms that once aided in making them into ‘Internet celebrities’. These individuals (and sometimes groups) are being ‘deplatformed’ by the leading social media companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for such offences as ‘organised hate’. Deplatforming has prompted debate about ‘liberal big tech’ silencing free speech and taking on the role of editors, but also about the questions of whether it is effective and for whom. The research reported here follows certain of these Internet celebrities to Telegram as well as to a larger alternative social media ecology. It enquires empirically into some of the arguments made concerning whether deplatforming ‘works’ and how the deplatformed use Telegram. It discusses the effects of deplatforming for extreme Internet celebrities, alternative and mainstream social media platforms and the Internet at large. It also touches upon how social media companies’ deplatforming is affecting critical social media research, both into the substance of extreme speech as well as its audiences on mainstream as well as alternative platforms.
The Interplay Between Australia’s Political Fringes on the Right and Left: Online Messaging on Facebook
2020 Guerin, C., Davey, J., Peucker, M. and Fisher, T.J. Report
This research briefing outlines findings from an analysis of the far-right and far-left Facebook ecosystem in Australia in the first seven months of 2020. It analyses how the far-right and far-left discuss each other on Facebook and how narratives about the other side of the political spectrum shape the online activity of these groups. It also seeks to understand how central discussion about the ‘other side’ is to the far-right and far-left and how it fits within the broader online activities of these movements.
(Young) Women’s Usage of Social Media and Lessons for Preventing Violent Extremism
2020 Krasenberg, J. and Handle, J. Policy
The RAN small-scale expert meeting on (young) women’s usage of social media and lessons learned for preventing violet extremism (PVE) was aimed at unpacking some of the gaps. This paper summarises the highlights of the discussion, discusses the vulnerabilities that are specific to (young) women, explains how recruiters use these vulnerabilities online and, finally, presents the recommendations that the experts stressed during the meeting.
Racism, Hate Speech, and Social Media: A Systematic Review and Critique
2021 Matamoros-Fernández, A. and Farkas, J. Article
Departing from Jessie Daniels’s 2013 review of scholarship on race and racism online, this article maps and discusses recent developments in the study of racism and hate speech in the subfield of social media research. Systematically examining 104 articles, we address three research questions: Which geographical contexts, platforms, and methods do researchers engage with in studies of racism and hate speech on social media? To what extent does scholarship draw on critical race perspectives to interrogate how systemic racism is (re)produced on social media? What are the primary methodological and ethical challenges of the field? The article finds a lack of geographical and platform diversity, an absence of researchers’ reflexive dialogue with their object of study, and little engagement with critical race perspectives to unpack racism on social media. There is a need for more thorough interrogations of how user practices and platform politics co-shape contemporary racisms.