Social Media and Conflict Zones: The New Evidence Base for Policymaking
February 4, 2015
            by Eliot Higgins In recent years, content shared via social media from conflict war zones has allowed us to gain a far deeper understanding of the on-the-ground realities of specific conflicts than previously possible. This presents a real opportunity for providing robust evidence which can underpin foreign and security ...
Emergence and Role(s) of Online Disseminators in the Syria Conflict
January 28, 2015
by Ruth Manning We live in an age where our political, religious, and other beliefs are being shaped by online content and interaction. Social media sites including Facebook and Twitter are powerful platforms that, amongst other things, present the opportunity for individuals to communicate radical ideas and opinions, and can therefore act as vehicles for ...
Malheureusement, Nous Ne Sommes Pas Tous Charlie 2: Rules of Engagement
January 21, 2015
by David Stevens and Kieron O’Hara Last week in this blog, we argued that goods such as belonging and commitment were the chief drivers of extremist groups, alongside a rejection of mainstream thinking. In a book which appears next month, The Devil’s Long Tail, we claim that suppressing ideological messages in the hope of preventing ...
Malheureusement, Nous Ne Sommes Pas Tous Charlie: Combating (Online) Radicalism
January 14, 2015
by David Stevens and Kieron O’Hara The attacks by Islamist gunmen on the Parisian offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and elsewhere have shocked the world, drawing attention away from ISIS and the Syria and Iraq conflicts, and back to the apparent enemy within. Europe’s wealthy, tolerant and secure democracies, the story goes, harbour a critical ...
Popular Online Figures who Inspire the Syrian Fighters
January 7, 2015
By Joseph A. Carter, Shiraz Maher and Peter R. Neumann Over a twelve month period from early 2013 to early 2014 a team of researchers at ICSR created a database of social media profiles of 190 Western and European foreign fighters. More than two thirds of these fighters were affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusrah or the ...
Down the (White) Rabbit Hole: The Extreme Right and Online Recommender Systems
December 1, 2014
by Derek O’Callaghan YouTube’s status as the most popular video sharing platform means that it is especially useful to political extremists in their efforts to influence a wide audience. We often see links to associated videos and channels on YouTube being propagated on other social media platforms such as Twitter. In this analysis, we were ...
In the Wake of Lee Rigby Inquiry, Remember Radicalisation and Terrorism are not the Same
November 27, 2014
by Matthew Francis A parliamentary inquiry has cleared MI5 of failing to prevent the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013. This despite the fact that his killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, were both subjects of previous investigations by the security services – investigations which showed that both men had been radicalised. Inevitably this conclusion ...
Counterterrorism Messaging Needs To Move From State to CIA
November 17, 2014
by Philip Seib The State Department is trying hard to counter online propaganda from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The information battleground includes Twitter and video messages, terrain that ISIL knows well. In addition to having too little money and too few people, the department is forced to conform to federal rules requiring that its ...
Coming Face to Face With the New Normal in Internet Research
November 10, 2014
        by Elizabeth Buchanan When news of the Facebook contagion study hit, I was presenting a session on research ethics to the VOX-Pol summer school at Dublin City University. I had intended to discuss the Belfast Project as an example of social, behavioural, and educational research gone badly—indeed, this project had international ...
Review: Jihadi Culture on the World Wide Web
November 3, 2014
by Anne Stenersen In Jihadi Culture on the World Wide Web, Gilbert Ramsay challenges existing assumptions about the phenomenon of ‘online jihadism’. He argues that a clear distinction be drawn between the offline and online activities of al-Qaida’s supporters. Consumption of ‘jihadi’ content online is not necessarily a step towards engagement in real-world violence, but a cultural ...