Welcome to Vol. 5 Iss. 1 of the VOX-Pol Newsletter.
This is VOX-Pol’s fifth year in operation; thanks for supporting us over the last four years.
In particular, please update any interested colleagues about our two-day conference on 20 – 21 August at the University of Amsterdam, with post-conference workshops on 22 August. More details shortly!
Follow us on Twitter @VOX_Pol for live updates and releases.
The VOX-Pol Team
FORTHCOMING VOX-POL EVENTS
VOX-Pol Third Biennial Conference
We are pleased to announce that the third biennial VOX-Pol Conference will take place at the University of Amsterdam on 20 – 21 August, with post-conference workshops on 22 August 2018. The Call for Papers and other details will appear HERE shortly.
RECENT VOX-POL EVENTS
Workshop on Similarities and Differences between Online Terrorism and Online Child Sexual Abuse and their Implications
VOX-Pol hosted a workshop on 22 – 23 January 2018 at Dublin City University titled ‘Similarities and Differences between Online Terrorism and Online Child Sexual Abuse and their Implications’ to discuss overlapping concepts, tools, and strategies to tackle violent online political extremism and online child sexual exploitation. Participants included scholars, representatives from social media companies, NGO representatives, and law enforcement. VOX-Pol will be producing a report on the topic within the coming months. Further information about the event is available HERE.
CONTRIBUTION TO RECENT EVENTS
Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism
VOX-Pol’s Prof. Maura Conway and Lisa McInerney participated in an event hosted by The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) on 6 December 2017, at Google’s Brussels’ offices. The event featured representatives from GIFCT founder companies, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, along with representatives from the EU Commission, EUROPOL, ICT4Peace, CDT, and others. Prof. Conway, participated in a panel discussion and Q&A, which focused on the perspectives of stakeholders from academia, industry, and civil society on the fight against online terrorist propaganda. Issues raised in the panel discussion included the online activity of both IS and the extreme-right, content takedown and its impacts on freedom of expression, and the difficulties and opportunities of engaging in research on extremism, terrorism, and the Internet.
Third Ministerial Meeting of the EU Internet Forum
VOX-Pol was represented by Prof. Maura Conway and Lisa McInerney, at the third Ministerial meeting of the EU Internet Forum held in Brussels on 6 December 2017. The aim of the meeting was to take stock of the progress made over the past year on curbing terrorist content online and to decide on next steps in this area. The Forum highlighted the need to exploit the now fully-operational database of known terrorist content (database of hashes). The database was launched in spring 2017 and now comprises over 40,000 hashes of known terrorist videos and images. The European Commission’s official press release about the event may be accessed HERE. At a follow-up meeting, the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Forum, on 5 February 2018, Prof. Conway presented VOX-Pol’s Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online In 2017: The Year In Review, which will appear in our website shortly.
United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee meeting with the Global Research Network
On 16 November 2017, Dublin City University’s Dr. James Fitzgerald and University College London’s Dr. Paul Gill represented VOX-Pol at an open meeting of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee’s Global Research Network at the UN Headquarters’ in New York. The meeting focused on recent trends in terrorism and counter-terrorism. The aim of the meeting was to identify research gaps and prioritise areas of work with respect to implementing relevant Security Council Resolutions.
VOX-POL RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
VOX-Pol researchers from the University of Amsterdam, Dr. Stevan Rudinac, Iva Gornishka, and Prof. Marcel Worring published a paper based on their development of image analytics titled ‘Multimodal Classification of Violent Online Political Extremism Content with Graph Convolutional Networks,’ which appeared in Thematic Workshops ‘17 – Proceedings of the Thematic Workshops of ACM Multimedia 2017. The paper uses automated classification methods, specifically, graph convolutional networks, to categorise two million user posts on the extremist web forum Stormfront. The method employed uses heterogeneous information including text, visuals, and information about user interactions from the online platform.
VOX-Pol and CEU’s Dr. Kate Coyer published an essay titled ‘State Power and Extremism in Europe: The Uneasy Relationship between Governments and Social Media Companies’ in the collection Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online published by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The essay argues that although violent extremism and hate speech are closely linked, social media companies need to resist government pressures to broadly define and over-regulate hate content online.
IN THE MEDIA
VOX-Pol External Advisory Board Member, Prof. Gabriel Weimann was quoted in ‘Apple: Telegram App’s ‘Inappropriate Content’ Behind Unshelving‘, Newsmax, 2 February 2018.
VOX-Pol Researcher, Dr. Paul Gill was was quoted in ‘How the London Mosque Attacker became a Terrorist in Three Weeks‘, The Guardian, 1 February 2018.
Dr. Paul Gill was also quoted in ‘‘Lone Wolf’ Moniker Counterproductive in Fighting Terror, Researchers Say‘, VOA News, 2 February 2018.
In addition, Dr. Gill was interviewed for the BBC Special Investigations programme ‘Terror By Text‘ first broadcast on 6 September 2017, but now available online.
VOX-Pol Researcher Mobility Programme Alumn, Dr. Ryan Scrivens authored a blog post, titled ‘Trump may have Emboldened Hate in Canada, but it was Already Here‘, The Conversation, 18 December 2017.