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What they do in the shadows: examining the far-right networks on Telegram

posted on 24.08.2020 by Aleksandra Urman, Stefan Katz

The present paper contributes to the research on the activities of far-right actors on social media by examining the interconnections between far-right actors and groups on Telegram platform using network analysis. The far-right network observed on Telegram is highly decentralized, similarly to the far-right networks found on other social media platforms. The network is divided mostly along the ideological and national lines, with the communities related to 4chan imageboard and Donald Trump’s supporters being the most influential. The analysis of the network evolution shows that the start of its explosive growth coincides in time with the mass bans of the far-right actors on mainstream social media platforms. The observed patterns of network evolution suggest that the simultaneous migration of these actors to Telegram has allowed them to swiftly recreate their connections and gain prominence in the network thus casting doubt on the effectiveness of deplatforming for curbing the influence of far-right and other extremist actors.