Alt_Right white lite: Trolling, hate speech and cyber racism on social media

Jakubowicz, A. H. (2017). Alt_Right white lite: Trolling, hate speech and cyber racism on social media. Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 9(3), 41–60.


Open access: Yes

Notes: This article explores the rise of online neo-nazism in the context of Australia. To frame his understanding of this topic, the author outlines how online racism reflects and shapes global, national, and local struggles—with ties to the state, the economy, and civil society. More specifically, the author draws from a case study that explores The Dingoes, an alt-right group that sought to use a wide a range of social media, “skirting rules and testing boundaries, in order to normalise racist hate speech” (p. 48). In this case study, the author tells how the group targeted him by employing various tactics (such as echo brackets and Operation Google) to target him due to his Jewish heritage. To address these issues, Jakubowicz proposes various legal approaches. However, he emphasizes that “If we understand that online racism has all the characteristics of multiple conflicting and competing social movements, then a social movement model might best provide the way to limit its impact and hold both perpetrators and supporters to account.” (p. 54).

Abstract: The rapid growth of race hate speech on the Internet seems to have overwhelmed the capacity of states, corporations or civil society to limit its spread and impact. Yet by understanding how the political economy of the Internet facilitates racism it is possible to chart strategies that might push back on its negative social effects. Only by involving the state, economy and civil society at both the global level, and locally, can such a process begin to develop an effective ‘civilising’ dynamic. However neo-liberalism and democratic license may find such an exercise ultimately overwhelmingly challenging, especially if the fundamental logical drivers that underpin the business model of the Internet cannot be transformed. This article charts the most recent rise and confusion of the Internet under the impact of the Alt-Right and other racist groups, focusing on an Australian example that demonstrates the way in which a group could manipulate the contradictions of the Internet with some success. Using an analytical model developed to understand the political economy and sociology of mass media power in the later stages of modernity, before the Internet, the author offers a series of proposals on how to address racism on the Internet.

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