Social Media and Social Hatred: Exploring the Online Extremist Community and the Use of Twitter
Each day an average of 140 million ‘tweets’ are posted on the social networking and micro-blogging website ‘Twitter.’ Recently, there have been increasing concerns that Twitter has become a digital sanctuary and soapbox for various hate groups and inflammatory and hate-oriented speech. This research project involves a sample of 70 extremist Twitter accounts that have been selected for their messages promoting hate. These accounts have then been analyzed, looking at the average number of followers, the average number of groups they are following, and other variables such as stated location and total number of tweets. This base analysis of the extremist accounts and their Twitter activity provides us with a statistical snapshot of the extremist presence on Twitter, and allows comparisons to the ‘average’ Twitter user. A network analysis of the extremist accounts that are linked together via Twitter provides us with further insights. With this research, an accurate portrait of the extremist community on Twitter can begin to take shape. The findings will likely hold implications for future research and policy decisions.
Keywords: Social Media, Twitter, Hate Groups, Social Networking, Online Radicalization
Homeland Security Scientific Leadership Scholar, Institute for Public Safety and Justice, University of the District of Columbia