The VOX-Pol Blog is now in its 6th year, with just over 380 posts having been published to-date.
We always welcome original posts, we cross-post with permission, and can also accept posts that have been published elsewhere in languages other than English and have them translated. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with submissions and/or questions.
Each year during August we take a Blog ‘holiday,’ during which we re-post the most popular Blogs from the previous twelve months.
Below are the top four most popular blog posts, by page views, of the past year (i.e. September 2018 to August 2019).
1. Building Resilience for Terrorism Researchers by Peter King
Our most-read blog post of the past year is about the effects repeated exposure to violent extremist and terrorist content may have on terrorism researchers and various methods that can be used in coping with these.
The author of our most popular Blog post is Peter King, an Arabic-speaking independent consultant who has been investigating the exploitation of the internet by jihadist groups and their supporters for well over a decade. In 2004, he pioneered the systematic research and analysis of online jihadist media for the British government and went on to lead a dedicated team of experts in the field at the BBC.
Peter’s post was part of a series of VOX-Pol Blogs reflecting on ethics-related issues in our field. The other posts are accessible HERE, HERE, and HERE. On that note, VOX-Pol is pleased to announce that we will be adding a dedicated Ethics resource page to our website soon.
The second most-read article of the year looked at the importance of understanding terrorists’ use of the internet in the context of today’s digital efforts to counter violent extremism. It discussed how efforts and tactics being used to counter violent extremism may soon become obsolete, particularly when IS and other extremists starts successfully utilising the decentralised web and so-called decentralised applications (DApps) to evade account and content take-downs.
This post argues that non-violent material is integral to terrorists’ propaganda efforts and is in many ways more resilient online because of it being less graphic, can be just as persuasive as its gory counterpart, and can even cultivate broader appeal because of its normalised content. Furthermore, the fact that it is rarely taken down from Online Service Providers (OSPs)—including well-known platforms—reinforces its credence, say the post’s authors. Non-violent material produced by designated terrorist organisations must be removed, according to the latter, and the same criteria and standards applied to removing it as to its violent counterpart.
This Blog post is a lightly edited version of a report prepared by the EU Internet Referral Unit in Europol and circulated to law enforcement agencies and member states in October 2018. It appeared on the VOX-Pol Blog publicly for the first time.
4. #Dundalk: Breaking News and the Far Right by Niamh Kirk et al.
On 3 January, 2018, Japanese student Yosuke Sasaki (aged 24) was killed in a knife attack in Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland. On 5 January, 2018, 18-year-old Mohammed Morei appeared in court charged with his murder. In the period between the arrest and the court appearance, where Morei was greeted by an angry crowd shouting insults, the Twitter hashtag #Dundalk had taken on a strange yet predictable life of its own. This post discusses how the news story provides a useful opportunity to investigate some of the consequences of the speed at which news ‘breaks’ has accelerated to a point where how the news is made has become part of the story.
The post was authored by Niamh Kirk, a PhD researcher in the School of Communications at Dublin City University; Eugenia Siapera, Professor and Head of the School of Information and Communication Studies at University College Dublin; and Gavan Titley, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University. Nimah can be followed on Twitter @NiamhKirk and Eugenia @eugeniasiapera.