Right-wing terrorism is on the rise in the West, from El Paso, Texas, to Christchurch, New Zealand. Of the five deadliest years for extremist violence in the US since 1970, three have occurred in the past decade, and many of the perpetrators of these acts of violence have broadcast their actions or ideology online to increasingly large audiences. But for 30 years or more, terrorism studies focused almost exclusively on leftist groups; in more recent times its focus has narrowed to jihadi terrorism. Less is known about the processes driving right-wing extremism—white nationalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, virulent misogyny, etc.—or the distinct mechanisms by which they may occur online.

Concerns over online radicalization have arisen at a time of major academic uncertainty about media habits and effects. The rise of smartphones, apps, and platforms has changed media habits—e.g., how we read the news or engage in online debate—as well as the state of information diversity. And while it is clear that right-wing extremists exploit social media for political purposes, the extent to which they were radicalized online is far less certain.

In order to effectively confront extreme right radicalization, we must first expand the available academic scholarship on this and related topics. It is in this context that the Media & Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) held an interdisciplinary research development workshop at the SSRC in Brooklyn, NY, on May 14–15, 2020. This workshop was cochaired by Professor Maura Conway (Dublin City University) and Professor Fenwick McKelvey (Concordia University).

Workshop Chairs

Maura Conway 
Professor of International Security  
Dublin City University

Fenwick McKelvey
Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Concordia University


The following were accepted into the workshop:

Tina Askanius
Associate Professor of Media and Communication Studies
Malmö University
Paper: “On frogs, Holocaust LOLs and execution memes: Exploring the humor-hate nexus at the intersection of neo-Nazi and Alt-Right movements in Sweden”

Anirban Baishya 
Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies
Fordham University 
Paper: “Violent Spectating: Hindu Right-Wing Extremism and Audio-visualizations of Hate and Terror in Digital India”

Joel Beeson 
(Co-author: Dana Coester)
Professor of Visual Communication and New Media
West Virginia University 
Paper: “Hiding in Plain Sight: Online vectors of white supremacist influence and recruitment of adolescent white males in Appalachia”

Alex DiBranco 
PhD Candidate, Sociology
Yale University 
Paper: “Male Supremacist Mobilization Online: Frameworks, Radicalization, and Violence”

Brian Friedberg 
(Co-author: Joan Donovan)
Senior Researcher, Technology and Social Change Research Project
Harvard University 
Paper: “Manifestos, Livestreams, and Communities of Radicalization”

Bharath Ganesh 
Assistant Professor of Media Studies
University of Groningen 
Paper: “Platform Racism and the Governance of Right-Wing Extremism”

Daniel Karell 
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Yale University 
Paper: “What Real Is: The Rhetoric and Relations of Alternative Influence”

Cindy Ma 
PhD Candidate, Information, Communication, and the Social Sciences
University of Oxford 
Paper: “Seeing white: Anti-racist speech and white racial reactions on YouTube”

Alice Marwick 
(Co-author: Benjamin Clancy)
Assistant Professor of Communication
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
Paper: “Radicalization: A Review of the Literature”

David Nemer 
Assistant Professor of Media Studies
University of Virginia 
Paper: “From Misinformation to Extremism: How WhatsApp Is Affording Radicalization in Brazil”

Deana Rohlinger 
Professor of Sociology
Florida State University 
Paper: “Cultures of Extremism? Online Discussions during the 2018 Midterm Election Cycle”

Megan Squire 
Professor of Computer Science
Elon University 
Paper: “Mapping the Radical Right Podcast and Streaming Network”

Yannick Veilleux-Lepage 
(Co-author: Ayse Lokmanoglu)
Assistant Professor of Terrorism and Political Violence
Leiden University 
Paper: “Hatred, She Wrote: An Analysis of the Extreme Right and Islamic State Women’s Only Forum”