A brief excursion through various techniques to collect and analyse datasets from online far-right platforms. How can computational methods help to understand and counter far-right politics?
The problematic spread of far-right agitation online hardly needs any further introduction. but how are we to make sense of these movements? Theoretically incoherent, spread out over millions of social media posts, and often moving in memes rather than regular discourse, coming to terms with what is going on in the brown corners of the internet can be a daunting challenge.
Though of course no substitute for more traditional research methods, adding data analysis to the antifascist toolbox can help to shed some light in these matters. Network analysis, natural language processing, and creative database queries can help to identify different communities within the far-right and how they relate to each other. they can provide a 'distant reading' of vast amounts of posts, revealing glimpses of the topics that are discussed and the rhetoric that is used.
During the presentation, various techniques for both collecting and analysing data will be shown. Datasets from both an alt-right and a neo-nazi platform will be used to showcase the kind of results and interpretations these techniques can afford.