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

PROTOCOL: What are the effects of different elements of media on radicalization outcomes? A systematic review
2021 Wolfowicz, M., Hasisi, B. and Weisburd, D. Article
Objectives: In this systematic review and meta analysis we will collate and synthesize the evidence on media‐effects for radicalization, focusing on both cognitive
and behavioral outcomes. The goal is to identify the relative magnitudes of the effects for different mediums, types of content, and elements of human‐media
Methodology: Random‐effects meta analysis will be used and the results will be rank‐ordered according to the size of the pooled estimates for the different factors.
Meta‐regressions, moderator analysis, and sub‐group analyses will be used to investigate sources of heterogeneity.
Implications: The results of this review will provide a better understanding of the relative magnitude of the effects of media‐related factors. This information should
help the development of more evidence‐based policies.
What are the effects of different elements of media on radicalization outcomes? A systematic review
2022 Wolfowicz, M., Hasisi, B. and Weisburd, D. Article
This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to (1) identify and synthesize the effects of different media-related risk factors at the individual level, (2) identify the relative magnitudes of the effect sizes for the different risk factors, and (3) compare the effects between outcomes of cognitive and behavioral radicalization. The review also sought to examine sources of heterogeneity between different radicalizing ideologies.
Examining the interactive effects of the filter bubble and the echo chamber on radicalization
2021 Wolfowicz, M., Weisburd, D. and Hasisi, B. Article
Despite popular notions of “filter bubbles” and “echo chambers” contributing to radicalization, little evidence exists to support these hypotheses. However, social structure social learning theory would suggest a hereto untested interaction effect.
An RCT of new Twitter users in which participants were randomly assigned to a treatment of “filter bubble” (personalization algorithm) suppression. Ego-centric network and survey data were combined to test the effects on justification for suicide bombings.
Statistically significant interaction effects were found for two proxies of the echo chamber, the E-I index and modularity. For the treatment group, higher scores on both factors decreased the likelihood for radicalization, with opposing trends in the control group.
The echo chamber effect may be dependent on the filter bubble. More research is needed on online network structures in radicalization. While personalization algorithms can potentially be harmful, they may also be leveraged to facilitate interventions.
21st Century Radicalization: The Role Of The Internet User And Nonuser In Terrorist Outcomes
2014 Woodring, D.W. MA Thesis
This study examines differences between users and nonusers of information communication technologies (ICTs) within the pre-incident planning processes for domestic terrorist movements operating within the United States. In addition, this study is the first quantitative exploration of the prevalence, types, and purposes of ICT use within terrorist movements, specifically environmental, far-right, and Islamic extremist movements. Using“officially designated” federal terrorism investigations from the American Terrorism Study (ATS), we analyzed extracted evidence of ICT usage among individuals (n =331) engaged in the pre-incident planning processes as members of terrorist movements between 1995-2011. While we find significant differences in terrorist ICT use across terrorist movements, our findings suggest that demographics are not a strong predictor of usage. We find the highest prevalence of usage among Islamic movements. However, evidence of online radicalization or recruitment was found predominantly among environmental movements. We conclude with a discussion of these findings and their implications for counterterrorism policy.
Domestic Terrorism, Cyber-Radicalization, and American College Students
2016 Wright, M. Article
Since 9/11, there has been an increase in domestic terrorism inspired by the Global Salafi Jihad ideology. Some of the individuals who undergo radicalization are U.S. college and university students. Radicalization is promoted on the Internet in ways that appeal to the young and impact those who are searching for their identities, their places in life. Radicalization is complemented by the open environment of higher education, where college- and university-based organizations can become forums for the presentation of radical messages in a way that connects with students. This article describes the four-stage radicalization process, explains why students are particularly vulnerable, and offers suggestions for implementing an effective response.
Resurgent Insurgents: Quantitative Research Into Jihadists Who Get Suspended but Return on Twitter
2016 Wright, S., Denney, D., Pinkerton, A., Jansen, V. and Bryden, J. Article
Jihadists are very active on Twitter but their accounts frequently get suspended. A substantial debate over the effectiveness of suspension has arisen; an important factor is that Jihadists quickly create new accounts, resurging back like a game of whack-a-mole. This causes biases for terrorism and intelligence analysts. Whilst widely acknowledged, little research addresses the problem. In this study we identify resurging Jihadist accounts with novel methods, and provide detailed analysis going beyond previous case-studies. We show that suspension is less disruptive to terrorists than previously thought, whilst the bias and disruption caused to terrorism research has been underestimated.
Boko Haram and the Discourse of Mimicry: a Critical Discourse Analysis of Media Explanations for Boko Haram’s Improved Video Propaganda Quality
2015 Wyszomierski, L.E. Journal
The Nigeria-based violent non-state actor Boko Haram is increasingly reported on in the news media in relation to the Islamic State, another, more prominent, violent non-state actor. In particular, these comparisons have been drawn within the context of reports on Boko Haram’s recent improvement in video propaganda quality. While the associations with the Islamic State are often warranted, there are broader social consequences when colonial power relations are brought into play. Borrowing an approach from critical discourse analysis, 16 online English-language news articles were read through a postcolonial lens in order to analyse the structural relations of dominance that arise when discussing African non-state actors. The analysis revealed that among the corpus of articles, nine developed a discourse of mimicry, which serves to deny Boko Haram full agency, relegate them to a silenced subaltern status, and ultimately to diminish the sense of threat posed to the dominant geopolitical security paradigm.
The Internet in Indonesia: Development and Impact of Radical Websites
2010 Yang Hui, J. Journal
The Internet has become a crucial part of modern society's life due to its ability to facilitate communication and structure contemporary society. Indonesia has not been left out of this global phenomenon. The Internet came to Indonesia in 1983 and its usage has continued to expand ever since, especially within institutions of learning and in the government sector. The study of radical websites must be situated within the development of the Internet in Indonesia in general instead of being examined by itself. The impact of certain activities such as cyberterrorism must then be examined in perspective, given the vast expanse of Indonesia as an archipelago and the resulting difficulties in linking the entire country to the Internet. This article seeks to trace the development of the Internet in Indonesia and examine the resulting impact on the reach of the radical Bahasa Indonesia Islamic websites in the Indonesian Archipelago and beyond. It also highlights typical narrative and operations of the radical websites, which serves to distinguish them from radical websites from elsewhere, such as the Middle East.
How dark corners collude: a study on an online Chinese alt-right community
2021 Yang, T. and Fang, K. Article
The rise of the ‘alt-right’ (alternative right) and their communications on the Internet are not unique to the West. This study follows a mixed-methods approach combining topic modeling, social network analysis, and discourse analysis to analyze the discursive and network structure of an online Chinese alt-right community on Weibo. We summarize the topics Chinese alt-right influencers discuss and examine how these topics are interrelated. We find that the Chinese alt-right discourse can be deemed as both an extension and localization of the global alt-right: they frequently discuss global alt-right issues and also hold alt-right ideologies on domestic issues. Meanwhile, influencers in the community are densely connected, suggesting a high level of coordination and cooperation. We particularly identify two discursive strategies that alt-right influencers employ to reproduce the transnational alt-right discourse, namely invented common crisis of majority culture and transnational metaphor usage. These findings provide insights into the transnational aspect of the rise of global alt-right.
Paradigmatic Shifts in Jihadism in Cyberspace: The Emerging Role of Unaffiliated Sympathizers in Islamic State’s Social Media Strategy
2016 Yannick Veilleux-Lepage Report
This paper provides an overview of the evolution of the concept of jihadism as it presently exists in cyberspace. From its roots during the Chechen conflict to the current use of social media by the Islamic State (IS), this paper identifies and examines three highly significant paradigm shifts: (1) the emergence of rudimentary Web 2.0 platforms and jihadist forums; (2) the advent of advanced Web 2.0 and social media platforms as methods of spreading jihadism; and (3) turn towards ‘lone wolf’ terrorism. In this paper, the author argues that IS’ extensive reliance on unaffiliated sympathizers, who either re-tweet or re-post content produced and authorized by the IS leadership can be seen as a groundbreaking paradigm shift in the evolution of jihadism in cyberspace. Furthermore, it is also argued that IS’ strategy of empowering of unaffiliated sympathizers represents a further development in the evolution of jihadism in cyberspace and can best be understood as an attempt to normalize and legitimize IS’ existence through its efforts to dominate the ‘IS narrative’ across social media platforms.
The Evolution of Online Extremism in Malaysia
2017 Yasin, N.A.M. Journal
The apocalyptic narrative of the Syrian civil war promoted by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in 2014 had galvanised around a hundred radicals in Malaysia who subsequently migrated to Iraq and Syria. At least forty-five of them propagated their jihadist cause online resulting in the mushrooming of online extremism in the country. The growth spans over five years (2013-2017) in two phases, one led by Muhammad Lotfi Arifin’s network of online followers and the other by Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi’s online supporters and sympathizers. Lotfi and his network popularised the concept of ‘jihad’ from the perspective of militant groups, while Wanndy lured vulnerable online followers deeper into the later stages of violent radicalisation. The trajectory of Malaysia’s online violent radicalism from Lotfi to Wanndy was coincidental rather than deliberate, signifying the ‘funnel’ process of radicalisation. This process is synced with the terrorists’ switch from online public platforms to encrypted and private ones.
Short of Suspension: How Suspension Warnings Can Reduce Hate Speech on Twitter
2021 Yildirim, M.M., Nagler, J., Bonneau, R. and Tucker, J.A. Article
Debates around the effectiveness of high-profile Twitter account suspensions and similar bans on abusive users across social media platforms abound. Yet we know little about the effectiveness of warning a user about the possibility of suspending their account as opposed to outright suspensions in reducing hate speech. With a pre-registered experiment, we provide causal evidence that a warning message can reduce the use of hateful language on Twitter, at least in the short term. We design our messages based on the literature on deterrence, and test versions that emphasize the legitimacy of the sender, the credibility of the message, and the costliness of being suspended. We find that the act of warning a user of the potential consequences of their behavior can significantly reduce their hateful language for one week. We also find that warning messages that aim to appear legitimate in the eyes of the target user seem to be the most effective. In light of these findings, we consider the policy implications of platforms adopting a more aggressive approach to warning users that their accounts may be suspended as a tool for reducing hateful speech online.
EEG distinguishes heroic narratives in ISIS online video propaganda
2020 Yoder, K.J., Ruby, K., Pape, R. and Decety, J. Article
The Islamic State (ISIS) was uniquely effective among extremist groups in the Middle East at recruiting Westerners. A major way ISIS accomplished this was by adopting Hollywood-style narrative structures for their propaganda videos. In particular, ISIS utilized a heroic martyr narrative, which focuses on an individual’s personal glory and empowerment, in addition to traditional social martyr narratives, which emphasize duty to kindred and religion. The current work presented adult participants (n = 238) video clips from ISIS propaganda which utilized either heroic or social martyr narratives and collected behavioral measures of appeal, narrative transportation, and psychological dispositions (egoism and empathy) associated with attraction to terrorism. Narrative transportation and the interaction between egoism and empathy predicted video recruitment appeal. A subset of adults (n = 80) underwent electroencephalographic (EEG) measurements while watching a subset of the video-clips. Complementary univariate and multivariate techniques characterized spectral power density differences when perceiving the different types of narratives. Heroic videos show increased beta power over frontal sites, and globally increased alpha. In contrast, social narratives showed greater frontal theta, an index of negative feedback and emotion regulation. The results provide strong evidence that ISIS heroic narratives are specifically processed, and appeal to psychological predispositions distinctly from other recruitment narratives.
Jillian C. York on Freedom of Expression and Safety Online
2016 York, J.C. Lecture
Is it possible to guarantee users online safety while also guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression? If there are limits to be placed on speech, who decides? In her keynote lecture of the VOX-Pol summer school on topics in violent online political extremism hosted by the Center for Media, Data and Society at the CEU School of Public Policy, Jillian C. York examines these questions, and looks at the current state of freedom of expression on the Internet, as well as the grave threats it faces. Jillian C. York is a writer and activist focused on the intersection of technology and policy. Based in Berlin, she serves as the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she works on issues of free expression, privacy, and digital security. Jillian is also a fellow at the Center for Internet & Human Rights at the European University Viadrina, and a member of the Deep Lab collective.
Vom Analogen ins Digitale. Eine kurze Geschichte der dschihadistischen Propaganda und ihrer Verbreitung
2020 Zabel, M. Chapter
Der Beitrag bietet eine kurze Einführung in die Geschichte dschihadistischer Propaganda von den 1980er Jahren bis in die Gegenwart. Nicht nur die medientechnologische und -kulturelle Entwicklung, sondern auch geopolitische Konfliktgeschichte mit wichtigen Stationen wie der sowjetischen Intervention in Afghanistan und dem ersten Tschetschenienkrieg sind hier ausschlaggebend. Was die Entwicklung auf dem Feld der Online-Propaganda betrifft, stützt sich der Verfasser auch auf eigenen Erfahrungen im Rahmen der Beobachtung und Analyse dschihadistischer Internet-Auftritte und -Kommunikatverbreitung.
What is Gab? A Bastion of Free Speech or an Alt-Right Echo Chamber?
2018 Zannettou, S., Bradlyn, B., De Cristofaro, E., Kwak, H., Sirivianos, M., Stringhini, G. and Blackburn, J. Article
Over the past few years, a number of new "fringe" communities, like 4chan or certain subreddits, have gained traction on the Web at a rapid pace. However, more often than not, little is known about how they evolve or what kind of activities they attract, despite recent research has shown that they influence how false information reaches mainstream communities. This motivates the need to monitor these communities and analyze their impact on the Web's information ecosystem. In August 2016, a new social network called Gab was created as an alternative to Twitter. It positions itself as putting "people and free speech first'", welcoming users banned or suspended from other social networks. In this paper, we provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first characterization of Gab. We collect and analyze 22M posts produced by 336K users between August 2016 and January 2018, finding that Gab is predominantly used for the dissemination and discussion of news and world events, and that it attracts alt-right users, conspiracy theorists, and other trolls. We also measure the prevalence of hate speech on the platform, finding it to be much higher than Twitter, but lower than 4chan's Politically Incorrect board.
On the Origins of Memes by Means of Fringe Web Communities
2018 Zannettou, S., Caulfield, T., Blackburn, J., De Cristofaro, E., Sirivianos, M., Stringhini, G. and Suarez-Tangil, G. Article
Internet memes are increasingly used to sway and manipulate public opinion. This prompts the need to study their propagation, evolution, and influence across the Web. In this paper, we detect and measure the propagation of memes across multiple Web communities, using a processing pipeline based on perceptual hashing and clustering techniques, and a dataset of 160M images from 2.6B posts gathered from Twitter, Reddit, 4chan's Politically Incorrect board (/pol/), and Gab, over the course of 13 months. We group the images posted on fringe Web communities (/pol/, Gab, and The_Donald subreddit) into clusters, annotate them using meme metadata obtained from Know Your Meme, and also map images from mainstream communities (Twitter and Reddit) to the clusters. Our analysis provides an assessment of the popularity and diversity of memes in the context of each community, showing, e.g., that racist memes are extremely common in fringe Web communities. We also find a substantial number of politics-related memes on both mainstream and fringe Web communities, supporting media reports that memes might be used to enhance or harm politicians. Finally, we use Hawkes processes to model the interplay between Web communities and quantify their reciprocal influence, finding that /pol/ substantially influences the meme ecosystem with the number of memes it produces, while td has a higher success rate in pushing them to other communities.
Countering terrorism or criminalizing curiosity? The troubled history of UK responses to right-wing and other extremism
2021 Zedner, L. Article
The growth of right-wing extremism, especially where it segues into hate crime and terrorism, poses new challenges for governments, not least because its perpetrators are typically lone actors, often radicalized online. The United Kingdom has struggled to define, tackle or legitimate against extremism, though it already has an extensive array of terrorism-related offences that target expression, encouragement, publication and possession of terrorist material. In 2019, the United Kingdom went further to make viewing terrorist-related material online on a single occasion a crime carrying a 15-year maximum sentence. This article considers whether UK responses to extremism, particularly those that target non-violent extremism, are necessary, proportionate, effective and compliant with fundamental rights. It explores whether criminalizing the curiosity of those who explore radical political ideas constitutes legitimate criminalization or overextends state power and risks chilling effects on freedom of speech, association, academic freedom, journalistic enquiry and informed public debate—all of which are the lifeblood of a liberal democracy.
Countering Violent Extremism: Developing an evidence-base for policy and practice
2015 Zeiger, S. and Aly, A. Report
This volume reports on the range of papers presented at the Annual Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Research Conference 2014 from 7-8 December 2014 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Conference was organized and hosted by Hedayah (the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism), Curtin University, People Against Violent Extremism (PaVE), and the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The Conference was also sponsored in part by the European Commission and the United States Department of State. The event was attended by approximately 100 academics, practitioners and policymakers from over 25 countries. The 2014 CVE Research Conference follows from the inaugural CVE Symposium hosted by Curtin University, PaVE, Macquarie University and Hedayah in Perth, Australia in 2013. As the first of its kind in the region, the 2013 Symposium brought together national and international scholars, practitioners, policymakers and former extremists to discuss and debate the current state and future directions for CVE. The intention for the CVE Research Conference is to be an annual event at which the yearly highlights of cutting-edge CVE research and innovation can be presented to academics, researchers, practitioners and policymakers on a global scale.
From Inspire to Rumiyah: does instructional content in online jihadist magazines lead to attacks?
2020 Zekulin, M. Article
Considerable time has been spent examining how groups like AQAP and ISIS used their online magazines to reach and radicalize individuals in Western democratic states. This paper continues this investigation but shifts its analysis to focus on the ‘how-to’ or instructional content of these publications, an understudied part of the literature. One of the stated goals of these magazines was to provide tactical know-how and assist supporters conducting terror plots in their home states. The question: did the tactics outlined in the magazines materialize in actual plots/attacks and how quickly were they put into practice? The paper examines this question by creating an overview of the tactics which appear in these publications and cross referencing them with a dataset of 166 Islamist-inspired homegrown terror plots/attacks in 14 Western democratic states to determine if, and when, they first appeared in relation to their publication date. It concluded that while some of the suggested strategies did appear following their publication, often it occurred after considerable time had elapsed. This suggests the instructional content did not resonate with readers in real time.