Trajectories of Islamophobic hate amongst far right actors on Twitter

10/13/2019
by   Bertie Vidgen, et al.
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Far right actors use the Internet for myriad purposes, such as forming communities, sharing information and attracting support. Concerns have been raised about their use of social media to spread hateful messages by both academics and policymakers. Given the potentially dangerous effects of hate speech, which can inflict harm on targeted victims, create a sense of fear amongst communities and pollute civic discourse, there is a pressing need to understand at a granular level how it manifests amongst far right actors online. In this paper we investigate the dynamics of Islamophobia amongst followers of a far right political party on Twitter, the British National Party. Using a new dataset of five million tweets, collected over a period of one year, we identify seven distinct trajectories of Islamophobia, which capture qualitative, qualitative and temporal differences in users' behaviour. We analyse the data using a classifier for Islamophobic content, which distinguishes between None, Implicit and Explicit Islamophobia, and latent Markov modelling with k modes clustering. The findings provide a new level of granular insight into Islamophobic behaviour amongst the far right on social media, both deepening existing knowledge and informing policy discussions regarding far right extremism and online hate speech.

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