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The importance of influential users in (re)producing Swedish far-right discourse on Twitter
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5028-0408
2020 (English)In: European Journal of Communication, ISSN 0267-3231, E-ISSN 1460-3705, Vol. 35, no 5, p. 613-628Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Using a combination of descriptive statistics, sentiment analysis and close readings of a collection of 74,336 Swedish tweets, this article explores the platform usage patterns of users who are influential in a Swedish far-right discourse on Twitter and how these users help to (re)produce far-right discourse. Specifically, it focuses on their use of platform functions and on language use. The analysis shows that influential users have a narrow focus in terms of the content they post and how they profile themselves. They are highly active, have more followers and produce more original content than other users. Surprisingly, while previous research has found that emotionally charged tweets are retweeted more and that highly popular and influential Twitter users tend to express more emotion while tweeting, influential users in this dataset often posted far-right content concealed as neutral, factual statements. This use of seemingly neutral language creates an inclusive far-right context, lets influential users evade responsibility for their content as well as facilitates more overtly hateful interpretations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2020. Vol. 35, no 5, p. 613-628
Keywords [en]
Discourse, far-right, influence, neutrality, sentiment analysis, social media, Sweden, Twitter
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-173876DOI: 10.1177/0267323120940909ISI: 000551172900001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85088371202OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-173876DiVA, id: diva2:1456758
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2016-02971Available from: 2020-08-06 Created: 2020-08-06 Last updated: 2023-03-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Far right, right here: interconnections of discourse, platforms, and users in the digital mainstream
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Far right, right here: interconnections of discourse, platforms, and users in the digital mainstream
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Radikalhögern online : en analys av diskurs, plattformar och inflytelserika användare i ett digitalt mainstream
Abstract [en]

Background: This thesis explores the far right online beyond the study of political parties and extremist far-right sites and content. Specifically, it focuses on the proliferation of far-right discourse among ‘ordinary’ internet users in mainstream digital settings. In doing so, it aims to bring the study of far-right discourse and the enabling roles of digital platforms and influential users into dialogue. It does so by analysing what is communicated and how; where it is communicated and therein the roles of different socio-technical features associated with various online settings; and finally, by whom, focusing on particularly influential users.

Methods: The thesis uses material from four different datasets of digital, user-generated content, collected at different times through different methods. These datasets have been analysed using mixedmethods approaches wherein interpretative methods, primarily in the form of critical discourse analysis (CDA), have been combined with various data processing techniques, descriptive statistics, visualisations, and computational data analysis methods.

Results: The thesis provides a number of findings in relation to farright discourse, digital platforms, and online influence, respectively. In doing so it builds on the findings of previous research, illustrates unexpected and contradictory results in relation to what was previously known, and makes a number of interesting new discoveries. Overall, it begins to unravel the complex interconnectedness of far-right discourse, platforms, and influential users, and illustrates that to understand the far-right’s efforts online it is imperative to take several dimensions into account simultaneously.

Conclusion: The thesis makes several contributions. First, the thesis makes a conceptual contribution by focusing on the interconnectedness of far-right efforts online. Second, it makes an empirical contribution by exploring the multifaceted grassroots or ‘non-party’ dimensions of farright mobilisation, Finally, the thesis makes a methodological contribution through its mix of methods which illustrates how different aspects of the far right, over varying time periods, diversely sized and shaped datasets, and user constellations, can be approached to reveal broader overarching patterns as well as intricate details.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2022. p. 90
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; D122
Keywords
far-right discourse, radical right, Sweden, internet, social media, online platforms, user-generated content, influential users, mixed methods, critical discourse analysis, CDA, radikalhögerdiskurser, radiklhögern, Sverige, internet, sociala medier, digitala plattformar, användar-genererat innehåll, inflytande, kombinerade metoder, kritisk diskursanalys, CDA
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-191942 (URN)978-91-7855-724-0 (ISBN)978-91-7855-725-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2022-03-03, Aula Biologica, Biologihuset, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-02-10 Created: 2022-01-27 Last updated: 2022-01-28Bibliographically approved

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Åkerlund, Mathilda

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