Welcome to Vol. 3, Iss. 1 of the VOX-Pol Newsletter.
VOX-Pol is now at the beginning of its third year, and we are looking forward to an exciting year ahead, full of events and publications. If you have colleagues or friends who may be interested in the content of this newsletter or any events and research carried out by VOX-Pol, please encourage them to subscribe via our website. Follow us on Twitter @VOX_Pol for live updates and releases.
The VOX-Pol Team
VOX-Pol launched its second report ‘Check the Web: The Ethics and Politics of Policing the Internet for Violent Extremist Content’, on 25 November 2015. The report, co-authored by Ian Brown and Josh Cowls, draws on insights from representatives of civil society, law enforcement and industry groups to offer fresh perspectives on the policing of violent political extremist content online. Evidently, the Internet now serves not only as a breeding ground for violent political extremism, but also offers a myriad of data streams which potentially hold great value to law enforcement. Using an international legal framework as a starting point, the report explores the technical, political and ethical complexities of policing the web for extremist material, and its implications for security, privacy, and human rights.
In December 2015, VOX-Pol launched an Online Library on its website. The Library currently lists over 280 articles related to various aspects of violent political extremism and terrorism and the Internet, which makes it the biggest such collection available in one place online today. Users can download open access material directly, or where the material is protected by copyright, are taken directly to the publisher version. The Library contains publications in a variety of formats, including audio and video, and is fully searchable.
VOX-Pol’s Online Library’s contents will be updated on a regular basis by promptly adding access and/or links to new material as it is published. As the resource is meant for use by those researching, teaching, or otherwise tasked in relation to violent online political extremism, VOX-Pol also welcomes suggestions for material that you think should be added to the Library, whether authored by you or others. All such suggestions and any other feedback should be emailed to: email@example.com.
The discourse of violent online radicalisation has been mainstreamed, being increasingly prevalent in both policy circles and media representations. On 8 – 9 March 2016, VOX-Pol will convene a workshop at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) on critiquing the discourse of violent online radicalisation. The objective of this workshop is to gain an insight into the main debates, issues, achievements and gaps into violent online political extremism and online radicalisation, but also encourage constructive dialogue on the challenges or difficulties in understanding and countering these, including ethical and political considerations. The workshop itself will be a participatory gathering with short presentations followed by discussion and debate moderated by experts in the field from academia and beyond. For further information, click here.
VOX-Pol’s mid-project conference “Taking Stock of Research on Violent Online Political Extremism” will take place at Dublin City University, Ireland on 23 – 24 June, 2016, with pre-conference workshops taking place on 22 June. Already announced ‘hands-on’ workshops include a half-day session on ‘Internet Research Ethics for Violent Political Extremism and Terrorism Researchers’ and a full-day ‘Python for Social Scientists’ session. More workshops TBC in coming weeks.
Along with a keynote presentation by J.M. Berger and another TBC, the conference will feature panels and papers describing and discussing in-depth and cutting-edge research on violent political extremism and terrorism and the Internet.
We are now calling for papers from all academic (sub-)disciplines, particularly communications, computer science, cultural studies, ethnography, fan studies, information science, international relations, internet studies, law, media studies, philosophy, politics, psychology, sociology, translation studies, and terrorism studies.
The following topics are of particular interest:
- History and evolution of violent online extremism;
- Online radicalisation;
- The Internet and recruitment into violent political extremist and terrorist groups;
- Methodologies, including mixed methods approaches, for violent political extremism and terrorism-related Internet research;
- Children/youth, violent political extremism, and online content;
- Women/gender, violent political extremism, and online content;
- Case studies of particular (sub-)groups’ cross-platform use of the Internet and social media;
- Case studies of the use of the Internet by violent extremists and/or terrorists in particular countries or regions;
- Case studies of the manifestation(s) and workings of violent political extremism on specific online platforms, particularly less-studied platforms (e.g. JustPaste.It, Tumblr, VKontakte);
- Case studies of particular online mediums or Internet-related technologies (e.g. video, mobile telephones, etc.) and their roles in violent online extremism;
- The role of online crowdsourcing in violent political extremism and terrorism;
- Audience reception of violent online political extremist content;
- Policy/legislative and other responses to violent online political extremism, including online CVE activity;
- The role of the ‘Darkweb’ in contemporary violent extremism and/or terrorism;
- Ethical issues surrounding online extremism-related research;
- Evaluative or ‘taking stock’ analyses.
Authors of individual papers should submit a 300-word abstract via our proposal submission page by 5pm GMT on Friday, 4 March 2016. Panel proposals should include a 200-word abstract and confirmed list of minimum 3 panelists.
For more information on conference participation, click here.
VOX-Pol’s second Summer School will take place at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary from 4 – 9 July 2016. This weeklong VOX-Pol summer course is designed to provide the participants with an introduction to the role of the Internet in contemporary violent political extremism(s), including the ethics and practices of monitoring violent political extremist content; impacts on freedom of expression and privacy online; and how to research and contribute to ensuing policy debates.
The course will employ a mix-method teaching style and will include lectures, discussion, small group work, policy lab and hands-on practicum, as well as a field trip to the Open Society Archives. Sessions will be led by experts from across fields, including research, policy making, internet industries, and civil society. We strongly encourage PhD candidates to apply for the course. For further information on application process, click here.
VOX-Pol’s Coordinator, Dr. Maura Conway, was extensively quoted in Irish national newspapers on the topics of Islamic State and online radicalisation in the latter part of 2015. In an Irish Examiner news item entitled “IS online radicalisation and recruitment campaign sees people ‘love bombed’ with messages”, Maura described direct targeting trends in IS’ online strategy. In another article “ISIL and rebels a click away from Irish teens” in the Irish Independent, Maura explained how Irish and other youth may access a huge range of malicious propaganda on social media, not just from so-called ‘Islamic State,’ but a whole array of violent extremist organisations.
VOX-Pol Research Fellow, Dr. Nico Prucha, was also quoted extensively in several media outlets in November 2015. In a German interview with the Swiss Neue Züricher Zeitung, Nico discussed Islamic State targeting refugees in Europe, as well as the Paris attacks. Nico was also quoted in a New York Times article “From Indonesia, a Muslim Challenge to the Ideology of the Islamic State” on the counternarratives of Western governments.
An article entitled “Going Dark: Terrorism on the Dark Web” authored by VOX-Pol Academic Advisory Board member Prof. Gabriel Weimann, was published in the latest issue of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. The article examines terrorist use of the so-called ‘deep’ or ‘dark’ web, inaccessible by standard search engines. For journal access, click here.