VOX-Pol Newsletter 3(4) November 2016

Welcome to Vol. 3 Issue 4 of the VOX-Pol Newsletter.

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.

Yours sincerely,

The VOX-Pol Team


Joint INFOCORE, MeCoDEM, VOX-Pol Workshop on Social Media, Conflict and Democracy

VOX-Pol, in conjunction with two other EU FP7-funded projects, INFOCORE and MeCoDEM, will hold a joint workshop themed “Social Media, Conflict and Democracy: Utopian Visions, Dystopian Futures and Pragmatic Policies” at the Press Club Brussels on Friday, November 18. The workshop will be of interest to journalists, scholars, activists, policy-makers, NGOs, and think tanks.The keynote speakers at the event include world-renowned Egyptian blogger and activist Wael Abbas, famous for his outspoken Tweets tackling key issues in Egypt. In addition, a set of other speakers representing three large-scale, transnational EU-funded projects – MeCoDEM, INFOCORE, and VOX-Pol – will be showcasing research done related to ICTs, conflict, democracy and security.

For more info click here

Lunch Briefing Series

If you’re in Brussels or have colleagues located there, please note that VOX-Pol is currently hosting a Lunch Briefing Series during October and November, 2016.

The Lunch Briefings take place on Tuesdays at lunchtime. Two of the planned six remain and will take place on November 15 and 22. Video recordings of past sessions can be viewed on our YouTube channel.


Session 5 – November 15

Elizabeth Pearson, RUSI, King’s College London, and VOX-Pol Visiting Researcher 2015
Wilayat Twitter, Gender and the Downside of Suspension

Using a dataset of more than 80 English language accounts, Elizabeth will explore the gendered ways in which self-proclaimed ISIS supporters on twitter construct community around account suspension activity by the social media company. She will argue that suspension, rather than ‘wasting time’ for ISIS online, is an integral event in female supporters (online) lives. In particular, Elizabeth will show how members of ‘Wilayat Twitter’ regard the platform as an ‘online front line’, with suspension viewed as an act of war against Muslims and that resurrection of accounts post-suspension is seen as evidence of both status and commitment to the cause, around which certain rituals have emerged.

For more info click here.

Session 6 – November 22

Prof. Maura Conway, Dublin City University and VOX-Pol Coordinator
Disrupting ‘Islamic State’s’ Online Activity

Prof. Conway will describe and analyse the ongoing disruption of the so-called ‘Islamic States’’ (IS) social media activity by, in particular, social media companies and grassroots activists, especially account suspensions and content take-down by the former and ‘drowning out’ and trolling strategies employed by the latter. She will discuss pathways to accessing violent jihadi and other extremist content via social media and provide some measurements of disruption activity, including its impacts on easy accessibility to IS content via prominent and high-traffic social media platforms. Finally, Maura will identify too the pros and cons of such activity.

For more info click here.


NATO Advanced Research Workshop – Terrorist Use of the Internet: Assessment and Response

A NATO Science for Peace and Security-funded Advanced Research Workshop on ‘Terrorist Use of the Internet: Assessment and Response’, jointly organised by VOX-Pol and the University of Swansea’s Cyberterrorism Project was hosted at Dublin City University from June 27 – 29. A workshop report detailing the latter discussions and a series of recommendations arising from these is available here. An edited volume containing a selection of the workshop presentations will be published in 2017.



Recently VOX-Pol partner Dr. Paul Gill of University College London published a paper concerning women’s connectivity in extreme networks. The paper aims to dispute the popular stereotype that women will play more minor roles than men as environments become more dangerous and aggressive. Analysis of longitudinal data gathered from Facebook competitors frequented by violent extremists, such as Vkontakte, shows that although men dominate numerically, women emerge with superior network connectivity. The paper is available here.

In recent months the topic of echo chambers on social media has been discussed in the media due to its role in electoral politics and democracy. In a new paper, VOX-Pol partner Jonathan Bright of the Oxford Internet Institute aims to address the role of ideology and extremism in the formation of these echo chambers. The paper is available to be read here.


VOX-Pol visiting researcher Ryan Scrivens was interviewed as part of a BBC article on Canadian right wing extremism, available here.

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