Project

Offline-to-Online: A Large-Scale Assessment of Right-Wing Extremists’ Online Discourse around Key Events

Goal: In an increasingly digital world, researchers have been exploring how hateful discussions unfold online and how offline events may shape subsequent online discourse. Particular emphasis has been placed on the online spaces of the radical right, as it would appear as though adherents are engaging in a high volume of discussion around the time of important events, including Trump’s presidential election victory. This assumption, however, has not yet been assessed from a large-scale data-driven approach. In this study, we will use a customized web-crawler to extract all open-source data found on the most visited white supremacy discussion forum, which includes over 12 million messages posted between 2001 and 2016. Drawing from a sample of the 100 most active posters in the forum, we will use a keyword-based approach to evaluate how online discussions change around key events, including the US presidential elections in 2008, 2014 and 2016, as well as the introduction of Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, and the mass shootings by white supremacists Wade Michael Page in 2012 and Dylan Roof in 2015. We will highlight the frequency with which discussions change around these distinct yet interconnected events, as well as provide policy implications and suggestions for future research.

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Ryan Scrivens
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In an increasingly digital world, researchers have been exploring how hateful discussions unfold online and how offline events may shape subsequent online discourse. Particular emphasis has been placed on the online spaces of the radical right, as it would appear as though adherents are engaging in a high volume of discussion around the time of important events, including Trump’s presidential election victory. This assumption, however, has not yet been assessed from a large-scale data-driven approach. In this study, we will use a customized web-crawler to extract all open-source data found on the most visited white supremacy discussion forum, which includes over 12 million messages posted between 2001 and 2016. Drawing from a sample of the 100 most active posters in the forum, we will use a keyword-based approach to evaluate how online discussions change around key events, including the US presidential elections in 2008, 2014 and 2016, as well as the introduction of Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, and the mass shootings by white supremacists Wade Michael Page in 2012 and Dylan Roof in 2015. We will highlight the frequency with which discussions change around these distinct yet interconnected events, as well as provide policy implications and suggestions for future research.