The effects of local socio-political events on group cohesion in online far-right communities

Ana-Maria Bliuc, John M. Betts, Nicholas Faulkner, Matteo Vergani, Rui Jie Chow, Muhammad Iqbal, David Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, the reach and influence of far-right ideologies have been extended through online communities with devastating effects in the real world. In this research, we examine how far-right online communities can be empowered by socio-political events that are significant to them. Using over 14 years of data extracted from an Australian national sub-forum of a global online white supremacist community, we investigate whether the group cohesion of the community is affected by local race riots. Our analysis shows that the online community, not only became more cohesive after the riots, but was also reinvigorated by highly active new members who joined during the week of the riots or soon after. These changes were maintained over the longer-term, highlighting pervasive ramifications of the local socio-political context for this white supremacist community. Pre-registered analyses of data extracted from other white supremacist online communities (in South Africa and the United Kingdom) show similar effects on some of the indicators of group cohesion, but of reduced magnitude, and not as enduring as the effects found in the context of the Australian far-right online community.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0230302
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020

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