The alternative right online

It is impossible to understand the Alternative Right without understanding how it operates online. 

Though the traditional far right has, of course, long used the internet as a tool, the Alternative Right has been able to attract a younger audience and advance its cultural war by effectively engaging with “Online Antagonistic Communities”.

Online Antagonistic Communities can be built around a variety of interests but all engage in exclusionary, antagonistic behaviour. Such communities, which can be found on all sides of the political spectrum, converge with the Alternative Right when their antagonism is directed at what they perceive as the left-liberal political and social hegemony.

Here we profile several Online Antagonistic Communities that have influenced the development of the Alternative Right.

Forums: Average Monthly Visits & Top Five User Countries

4Chan.org/pol/ 

4chan is a popular image board that, since its launch in 2003, has helped shape online culture by spawning a large number of internet subcultures and memes.

While not officially aligned to the alt-right, 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” board, abbreviated to /pol/, is the source of much of the movement’s creative and antagonistic energy.

The /pol/ board was created in 2011 after 4chan’s news discussion board, /new/, was deleted after becoming inundated with racist content. /pol/ quickly entered similar territory, and is now awash with racism and antisemitism.

/pol/, alongside 8chan, has been central to attempts to fool the liberal media that certain mundane symbols – such as milk or the “OK” hand gesture – are actually white supremacist symbols. Successful attempts to fool the media are then gleefully picked up by alt-light figures like Paul Joseph Watson.

4chan was central in the development of the Gamergate controversy although, after the site administration banned discussion of Gamergate, many diehard users flocked to 8chan instead.

8Chan 

8chan, also known as Infinitechan, is an image board created by Fredrick Brennan in 2013 as a “free speech” alternative to 4chan.

After 4chan banned discussion of Gamergate, 8chan became a central hub of Gamergate activity. A /pol/ board (to rival 4chan’s Politically Incorrect board) was set up on 8chan and has become home to many nazis and manospherians now identifying with the alt-right. Brennan, who suffers from a rare genetic bone disease, wrote an early article on the alt-right nazi site Daily Stormer in support of eugenics.

Perhaps the most notorious board on the site is /baphomet/, a hacking and “raiding” board known for launching extreme and co-ordinated forms of trolling and doxing (outing people). 8chan was key in the outing of several prominent members of the central alt-right website The Right Stuff. 

8chan has had a serious issue with child pornography being posted on multiple boards.

TOP 5 ALT-LIGHT & ALT-RIGHT SITES: AVERAGE MONTHLY VISITS & TOP FIVE USER COUNTRIES

Facebook and Twitter 

Popular social media platforms Facebook and Twitter have been used by the Alternative Right as springboards for social media personalities, organisations and publications.

Mike Peinovich (aka Mike Enoch) initially started the central alt-right hub The Right Stuff (TRS) as a Facebook group for libertarians disillusioned with the progressive influence on the free market right, turning the group into a blog after building a big enough audience. Other important Facebook groups include the alt-right group Counter-Signal Memes for Fashy Goys, linked to Cooper Ward (aka Ghoul) of The Right Stuff, and the Republic of Kekistan, a group based around the popular Alternative Right meme of the fictional nation of Kekistan.

Demonstrating the utility of Twitter to the Alternative Right is “Ricky Vaughn”, a pseudonymous alt-right account who first started out on the Alternative Right-linked forum mypostingcareer.com. Vaughn amassed over 60,000 Twitter followers by mixing white nationalist content with incessant support of Donald Trump and attacks on establishment Republicans.

An MIT Media Lab report in February 2016 ranked the Vaughn account as 107th on a list of the 150 most influential Twitter accounts on the 2016 Presidential election, placing him way ahead of numerous mainstream news outlets and media figures.

Alternative Right Twitter accounts are precarious, however, and the Ricky Vaughn account was eventually banned in October 2016, spawning a number of copycat accounts.

SOCIAL MEDIA STATS OF KEY PLAYERS

Reddit/Voat 

The broad Alternative Right has also made heavy use of the popular news aggregation and discussion site Reddit.com, especially through the subreddits r/altright and r/alternativeright.

Similar to content posted on 4chan and 8chan, content posted on these boards often delved into crude gutter racism that abandoned any pseudo-intellectual pretentions.

During the Presidential campaign r/The_Donald, Reddit’s large Trump supporting subforum, grew into one of the most active communities on the site and hosted “ask me anything” sessions with popular alt-light figures including Milo Yiannopoulos, Lucian Wintrich, Jack Posobiec and Kyle Chapman. However alt-right elements infiltrated the forum to post white nationalist and antisemitic content.

In January 2017 r/altright and r/alternativeright were deleted by Reddit after violating the company’s policy prohibiting “the proliferation of personal and confidential information”. The ban was long anticipated by users, who then migrated on mass to the more permissive Reddit copycat site Voat, especially the boards v/identitarian/ and v/altright, where behaviour resumed as before.