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Online Radicalization of White Women to Organized White Supremacy

Badalich, Savannah

Since its early mainstream adoption in the 1990s, the Internet has been leveraged by white supremacist groups to recruit and radicalize individuals. Twenty years later, social media platforms, like YouTube, reddit, and Twitter, continue to further this practice. The attention of researchers has been primarily centered on white supremacist men, and this focus on white men erases white women’s roles as active agents in the spread of white supremacy, skewing our understanding of white supremacy as a whole. This study used digital ethnography and interviews to examine the ways white women are radicalized to organized white supremacy through popular social media platforms YouTube, reddit, and Twitter. The study found white women were radicalized by engaging with posts and joining communities focusing on beauty, anti-feminism or “The Red Pill,” traditionalist gender values or #TradLives, and alt-right politics. White supremacist recruiters leveraged gendered topics and weaponized platform features – likes, sharing, comments, recommendation algorithms, etc. – to cultivate a sense of community. Through involvement with these communities, women were introduced to racialized perspectives on each topic, usually after a catalytic pop culture or newsworthy event, and slowly radicalized to organized white supremacy.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Patton, Desmond U.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
April 17, 2019

Notes

White supremacy, gender, online radicalization, online extremism, hate speech, hate violence, Twitter, reddit, Youtube, algorithms, white nationalism, white women, organized white supremacy, platform hate, human rights

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