Mapping the online far-right in NSW
Dr Julian Droogan1, Ms Lise Waldek1
1Department Of Security Studies And Criminology, Macquarie University, Nsw, Macquarie University, Australia
This paper presents findings from a funded research project ‘Mapping Networks and Narratives of Online Right-Wing Extremists in New South Wales’. Using analysis of large-scale online data from Facebook, Twitter, Gab, Reddit, 4Chan, and 8Chan we generated evidence-based insights into the online right-wing extremist milieu in NSW. We identified two connected levels of risk posed by these online communities. The first was a creeping threat to democracy fuelled by networks and content that challenged the fundamental principles of pluralistic liberal democracy. The second was a risk of violence perpetrated by individuals and/or groups that advocate or support the use of violence as a tactic to achieve an ideological end.
The communities examined were primarily characterised by networks of individuals as opposed to formal groups. Despite being hateful and extreme, these right-wing extremist milieus were spaces of sociability for users, where social networks of individuals were maintained by shared values and norms. For those involved, these spaces engender positive experiences. Key narratives used to radicalise focused on the delegitimisation of government and the dehumanisation of others. The incorporation of multiple platforms generated comparative analysis across the digital environment resulting in the observation and identification of five distinct stages of moderation approach and echo chamber strength. These have ramifications for policy communities particularly in relation to the importance of paying attention to issues of proscription and moderation.
Dr. Julian Droogan is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (Routledge). His research focusses on countering violent extremism, online radicalisation, and violent extremist narratives. He co-leads multiple funded research projects including an ARC Discovery grant examining the relationship between online extremism and real-world violent action, and projects for the NSW Government mapping far right violent extremism in Australia. He was responsible for the creation of the $10 million COMPACT CVE program operated by the NSW government. He has published on terrorism and social media, Islamist online recruiting methods, far-right extremism, and terrorism in the Asia-Pacific.