A new study out of George Washingotn, looking at the Twitter habits of white nationalists and ISIS advocates, found that America’s very own Donald J. Trump is one of the most popular topics among the former. Their language:
Followers of white nationalists on Twitter were heavily invested in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. White nationalist users referenced Trump more than almost any other topic, and Trump-related hashtags outperformed every white nationalist hashtag except for #whitegenocide within the sets of users examined.
I know Trump doesn’t like losing, but quite honestly, taking the silver medal to white genocide among that group is nothing short of impressive.
“As extensively documented in the media,” the study’s authors write, “white nationalists have for months expressed enthusiasm for Trump’s candidacy.”
In fact, three specific hashtags were in the top ten for both the white nationalist and Nazi sub-groups in April 2016. Those were:
The guy knows hows to brand!
Not only that, but the recent growth in the white nationalism movement apparently owes quite a bit to our next potential president. Here’s what the study had to say about the difference between the two Twitter factions, emphasis mine:
New developments and new propaganda items are a constant part of the ISIS landscape, whereas content in white nationalist networks tends to be repetitive, with few meaningful changes to the movement’s message, landscape, or political prospects. A notable exception to this is Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, which has energized white nationalists and provided new talking points and opportunities for engagement. Trump’s candidacy is likely driving some portion of movement’s recent gains on Twitter.
To drop the sarcastic tone for a second, the entire study is a really interesting look at extremist mindsets on Twitter. The conclusions looking at the differences between white nationalists and pro-ISIS movements are fascinating—for one, the ISIS networks tend to be inclusive and welcoming, while the white nationalists are more “antagonistic.” ISIS are also much better at organization, while white nationalists “have not found an effective way to advance to a post-awakening phase,” leading to “fragmentation.” And while it’s impossible to question the sincerity of the ISIS adherents, it’s not so clear-cut on the other side:
It is unclear in many cases whether these users are committed white nationalists, committed trolls, or something in between.
Again, please check out the study. It’s an eye-opening look at our increasingly polarized digital world—and, possibly, a sign of the dystopia to which we’re headed.