Next month, I’m flying to Salt Lake City to attend the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion to present some of my work about social media, religion, and the far right. I’ll be presenting on three different projects at SSSR—this was biting off more than I could chew, but since two of them connect with Mormonism, Salt Lake suggested the possibility of a larger-than-usual audience for that work, so there you go.
One of the Vice journalists currently reporting on the Tim Ballard allegations just followed my (now dormant) Twitter account, and I’m going to take that as validation of my research on far-right Mormonism.
It’s been over a year since Levi Sands, Amy Chapman, and I started talking about doing a topic model analysis of the LDS Freedom Forum, an online space for far-right Mormonism. I’ve usually been the one slowing us down, but today, I finally checked off a task that’s been on my lost for a month and a half. I’m really excited about the project, I just need to stop dragging my feet.
Free speech is genuinely important, but it’s hard to take the ideal seriously when its advocates twist it to mean something specific and self-serving.
link to ‘Elon Musk Is Taking Aim at Journalists. I’m One of Them.’
For over three years now, I’ve been getting increasingly involved with research projects that involve the online far right in one way or another. One of the most interesting ways that I’ve developed as a researcher during this time is having to think through in greater detail my commitments to research ethics. Because my research typically focuses on public social media data, I am rarely required to obtain informed consent from those whom I study.
I appreciate the way that Masnick uses examples from the news to call out how dumb some of these laws are.
link to ‘Twitter Removes Florida Political Candidate Advocating Shooting Federal Agents; If DeSantis Won His Lawsuit, Twitter Would Need To Leave It Up | Techdirt’
I read Torba’s blog post last week but hadn’t been aware of the context. Interesting read.
link to ‘Gab Users Somehow Astounded To Discover Gab Will Comply With FBI Requests For User Information | Techdirt’
Lots of directions to go with this one, but “based” is the red pill red flag for me. Lee is (unsurprisingly) borrowing the language of the far right.
link to ‘No cap, Sen. Mike Lee’s personal Twitter account is called ‘BasedMikeLee’ - The Verge’
McCarthy isn’t saying the same thing as these Telegram channels, but he’s making it easier for them to say what they’re saying.
link to ‘Trump Supporters Are Calling for Civil War After FBI Search of Mar-a-Lago’
I’m not going to link to it, but I am fascinated by a recent post on the Gab blog where Andrew Torba announced some new features to help Gab users push back against research on the platform. Not only do I have two or three ongoing projects using Gab data (one is in the very, very early stages and—ironically—uses Gab blog posts), but some of what Torba wrote also aligned with some of the (fortunately mild) trolling my co-author, Amy Chapman, and I have experienced because of my work on the far-right-influenced DezNat hashtag in Mormon Twitter.
I get that some of this is bluster and posturing, but that doesn’t make it any less worrying. This is the same state GOP that leaned into Gab a year or two ago.
link to ‘Texas GOP’s new platform says Biden didn’t really win the 2020 election : NPR’
Given the aggressively queerphobic language I’ve read on Gab, events like this are worrying but not surprising. More worrying is the way that this queerphobic language is increasingly used in the mainstream GOP. How do Republican politicians and voters feel about these events?
link to ‘A far-right plan to riot near an Idaho LGBTQ event heightens safety concerns at Pride : NPR’
Last week, I was interviewed by a reporter at WEKU about social media and content moderation in the context of the horrific recent shooting in Buffalo, and I was pleased to see the interview appear on the WEKU website this morning.
I wish that the headline didn’t frame this as a question of “free speech”—and that I’d perhaps been more forceful in emphasizing that these really aren’t questions of free speech so much as content moderation.
This matches rhetoric I’m reading while doing research on Gab. We need respectable conservative movements in the U.S., but our contemporary mainstream right is flirting with these ideas instead of denouncing them. It’s troubling
link to ‘The Far-Right Is Doxxing School Officials They Think Are “Groomers”’
Faut pas oublier ces liens quand-même.
[link to ‘Présidentielle 2022 : le ralliement d’Eric Zemmour gêne la stratégie de camouflage de Marine Le Pen’](https://www.francetvinfo.fr/replay-radio/l-edito-politique/presidentielle-2022-le-ralliement-d-eric-zemmour-gene-la-strategie-de-camouflage-de-marine-le-pen_5052049.html
I have spent a few hours this week reading violently anti-trans posts as part of a research project. My patience for queerphobic dog whistles disguised as feigned concerns about girls’ sports is at zero. So disappointed in the Kentucky legislature.
link to ‘LGBTQ advocates raise alarm against trans attacks in Ky. legislature – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville’
Worrying stuff here. Right-wing media consumption appears to be the big predictor for QAnon beliefs.
link to ‘QAnon Isn’t Dead, It’s Growing’
Just explained something I learned from studying far right spaces in Mormon social media to collaborators on a project studying queer spaces in far right social media, which is not an experience I expected when starting grad school in ed tech.
Very worrying. Underlines the importance of local politics.
link to ‘Proud Boys Regroup Locally to Add to Ranks Before 2022 Midterms - The New York Times’
I have a professional interest in the far right, follow the news pretty well, and still sometimes forget how bad Jan. 6 was just because life is crazy. Shame on those actively encouraging us to forget out of cynicism and self-interest.
Another reason to be wary of automated ad exchanges.
[link to ‘How Steve Bannon Has Exploited Google Ads to Monetize Extremism — ProPublica’](https://www.propublica.org/article/how-steve-bannon-has-exploited-google-ads-to-monetize-extremism
Guess who responded to a recent House censure by joining Gab a few days ago?
The whole point of far right meme culture is plausible deniability. Telling people to relax and that it’s just a joke is not only ridiculous but further plays into the parallels.
link to ‘Rep. Gosar anime video highlights ties to the online right - The Verge’
This is worrying. There’s a long tradition of open far right movements in France, and if the U.S has something to teach them, it should make us think twice about what’s happening here.
link to ‘U.S. Antigovernment Groups Are Influencing the French Far Right - The New York Times’
Every time I read a story like this, I think of how much we need ranked-choice voting in the US. I’m not inclined to vote for any Republican right now, but there are plenty I’d rank above these two if given the chance. I also wish I could have ranked Charles Booker AND Amy McGrath above Mitch McConnell back in November.
link to ‘In Iowa, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz Take Trump’s Baton - The New York Times’
Just reread “Superman Smashes the Klan” after a day that involved checking up on Gab for research purposes, and I believe more than ever that this is one of the best and most important comics of our time. 📚
Free tip to people reporting/writing on Gab: Don’t talk about “Trump’s account” as though it’s actually used by the man instead of populated by Gab to give the impression the platform has his endorsement. Plays into their hands.
This passage about the anti-Semitic Dreyfus Affair (from a book I’m reading on the French Third Republic) is coming to mind today:
Long before the end of the Affaire, as the French called it, the question of the guilt of Dreyfus became almost lost in the melee, giving way to a fundamental conflict over the very moral concepts of French society which cast its shadow over the Third Republic from then on to the end.
Remembering Governor Andy Beshear’s comments from last May: “You cannot fan the flames and then condemn the fire.” I can think of lots of people who need to hear that this morning.
I am not sure what I was expecting when I started looking for Mormon* content on Gab, but “we should get the missionaries on this platform” wasn’t it.