Cover: Countering Domestic Racially and Ethnically Motivated Violent Terrorism on Social Media

Countering Domestic Racially and Ethnically Motivated Violent Terrorism on Social Media

Introducing the Racist and Violent Extremist Flock Tool

Published Feb 23, 2023

by Daniel Tapia, Kristin Warren, Jacqueline Gardner Burns, Khrystyna Holynska, Jordan R. Reimer, Peter Schirmer, Will Shumate


Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 3.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback102 pages $30.00

Racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism is becoming an increasingly common occurrence in the United States. Racially and ethnically motivated violent extremist (REMVE)–related terrorism has consequences beyond loss of life: It undermines the sense of safety that targeted groups feel in their country and unravels the social fabrics of trust that are necessary for society to function. Further still, REMVE attacks can motivate other like-minded attackers to follow up with their own attacks, as was apparently the case with the May 14, 2022, mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, by a self-avowed, internet-radicalized white supremacist whose manifesto drew heavily from the March 15, 2019, Christchurch mosque mass shootings, which also inspired a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

Two key challenges for those who observe online spaces in which radicalization occurs are the sheer volume of data and the idiosyncrasies of online communities. Website-specific language and memes are difficult to track and parse; even if emerging terms are detected, defining them can be difficult.

RAND Corporation researchers developed the Racist and Violent Extremist Flock (RVE-Flock) tool to explore and analyze textual content on REMVE-affiliated social media. The user can identify emerging terms used in REMVE communities and trends on internet platforms. In this guide, the authors characterize term proliferation in online communities by exploring various REMVE terms and demonstrate the tool's functionality. To conclude, the authors identify additional applications of this work and potential refinements of the tool.

Funding for this research was made possible by the independent research and development provisions of RAND Corporation contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers. This research was conducted in the Management, Technology, and Capabilities Program of the RAND Homeland Security Research Division (HSRD).

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.