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A Web of Extremism: How Anti-Government Extremists Survive Online Censorship

  • Author / Creator
    Romanek, Jakub
  • This thesis explores how extremism manages to survive in moderated online spaces. This work follows the attempts of the Instagram platform to minimize the presence of the right-wing extremist groups, specifically the Boogaloo movement, as a means of understanding how such groups survive and proselytize in the face of censorship. Addressing this question is done through the use of a multi-sited virtual ethnography spanning the Instagram Boogaloo community, Telegram channels and other external links shared by the accounts within the sample group over the course of two years. Publicly available posts from relevant accounts were archived and subject to content analysis to provide a baseline understanding of the group’s ideology and determine existing and emergent themes in order to demonstrate the evolution of the group. Collection and analysis was a concurrent and cyclical process which yielded a deeper understanding of the Boogaloo movement’s ideology and the meaning behind the symbols employed by the group. Furthermore, the results of this work showcase that the longer the Boogaloo movement spent circumnavigating censorship, the more the group began to resemble other successful extremist groups. Subsequently the analysis was informed by social movement theory and new institutionalism to explain how extremist groups approach adversity and uncertainty in a similar fashion to how institutions behave, which ultimately leads to homogenization.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2023
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-15dx-g690
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.