by Becca Lewis, a PhD candidate at Stanford University and a graduate affiliate at the University of North Carolina’s Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life

Guardian: In the fall of 2018, I released a research report warning of a growing trend of far-right radicalization on YouTube. Specifically, I identified a loosely connected network of reactionary YouTubers, ranging from mainstream conservatives and libertarians all the way to overt white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who were all broadcasting their political ideas to young audiences.

Alternative Influence-Borad… by Sladjan Rankic

Tethered together by a shared opposition to “social justice warriors” and the mainstream media, they frequently collaborated with each other and amplified each other’s content. In the process, they made it extremely easy for a viewer to move bit by bit into more extremist content.

The following March, I watched in horror along with much of the rest of the world, as a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people and injured 40 more at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Throughout the chaos of the day, researchers parsed his manifesto and found that under the layers of irony and memes, the message was quite clear. He had been radicalized to believe in the Great Replacement, a white nationalist conspiracy theory that claims that white populations are being purposefully replaced with (often Muslim) immigrants.

The shooter’s manifesto clearly spelled out his racist and Islamophobic beliefs, but it provided scant information on how he came to embrace them.

On Monday, with the release of the Royal Commission’s inquiry into the attacks, we got a fuller picture: the Christchurch shooter was radicalized on YouTube, by many of the propagandists myself and other researchers had warned about. So why didn’t YouTube take action sooner, and what should they be doing now?  read more


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  1. I agree, David. They edited out VT, wrongly.
    So, the growth of this other negative group must have been a project, not a symptom.

  2. The issue is not free speech, the issue is monopoly. The data is the prize, and if one outlet has most of the data, then corporations will protect that source.
    Monopoly and anti-trust is a responsibility our US government has been avoiding, and people need to be more proactive in the voting booths about this major issue. Agribusiness and Pharma and Tech companies should all be limited in size and audience percentage.
    The push to give tech media, censoring responsibility is misguided. It is not censorship, it is editing. We cannot allow feds to govern editing, but we can allow them to prevent Monopoly, the greatest threat to democracy.

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