As technology continues to advance, the way communicate keeps on evolving. In this increasingly more digital world, communication via social media has become more important and common than ever. From simple rallies to revolutions, the social platforms such as Twitter can do more today than showcasing authentic news, fake news and memes.
But not every politically-motivated agenda on the internet seek to do good things. Hate speech and groups are changing conversations on Twitter, and other social networks and their online presence is growing. A recent study on Twitter revealed that most hate groups range from anti-immigrant and white supremacy to black nationalists and anti-LGBT. The study also revealed that these groups have been growing in terms of numbers and popularity.
The hateful but engaging conversation
When intensively analyzed, an extremist Twitter influence can produce meaningful reactions in other users. Despite many users following anti-immigration Twitter groups, anti-Muslims organizations on Twitter had the largest number of tweets associated with hate speech.
Out of over 100 hate groups on Twitter, anti-Muslim groups had over 26,000 average tweets and retweets. Other accounts such as Jihad Watch and ACT for America have over 55,000 followers each. The racist tweets targeted to Muslims accounted for many hate groups activities, a reason anti-Muslim groups were discovered more than other hate groups. The anti-immigrant accounts had an average of more than 13,000 tweets while the anti-LGBT accounts had over 10,000 tweets.
Given this outstanding engagement on Twitter, one important question is, ‘what do these extremists talk about?’
It’s worth noting that the jargon used by the extremists is striking for its similarity across different ideological lines. Most rhetorical grounds seem to be related to the President Trump’s administration. No wonder among all ideologies, the most searched words was ‘Trump.’ However, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it could ‘Trump’ being the most mentioned word on the internet could correlate with people talking about their president in different ways.
Besides, one of the Trump’s favorite terms also appeared frequently in the content shared by hate groups on Twitter. “Fake news” was frequently used by anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant extremists, and white nationalists. Some extremists’ ideologies also seemed to encourage cults of various personalities and celebrated particular proponents of their opinions.
David Duke and Richard Spencer were among the most mentioned white nationalists. Besides, Larry Klayman and Chuck Baldwin were the most mentioned anti-government. ‘Enemies’ weren’t exceptions in the hate groups’ tweets and retweets. Hillary Clinton showed up in various anti-government tweets while Ted Cruz was mentioned in most anti-immigrant groups on Twitter.
Each hate group is associated with a particular level of negativity. Despite facilitating different hateful agendas, some hate groups on Twitter have been spreading more negativity than others. For instance, groups focus on anti-immigrant issues shared some of the most negative tweets. A recent study analyzing the hate groups and their activities on Twitter released shocking numbers about the level of negativity associated with these groups.
On a scale of 0-1, with 0 being the most polarizing negative tweets or comments, the anti-immigrant groups had an average score of 0.03. On the other hand, anti-Muslim groups had slightly negative comments and tweets averaging a 0.04 on the scale.
Anti-Muslim comments and tweets were found to be less polarizing than other hate groups on Twitter. However, critics argue that the hate speech thrown at Muslim-Americans had normalized within the last ten. These critiques further argue that the failure to condemn hateful comments coupled with the divisions created by the 2016 presidential elections and the ever-increasing hate crime rate has incited further violence acts and trends of hateful words towards the Muslim community in the United States.
The white supremacist groups and other minor communities on Twitter had least polarizing tweets and comments.
Well, here is the thing…
The existence of hate groups, the fact that they have taken root in our communities and continue to earn more online presence is a major concern for everyone. The extremists are increasingly using Twitter and other social networks to spread hateful words. As much as Twitter and other social platforms focus on connecting people and offer freedom of speech, they can do more harm than good if left unregulated.