White nationalists and Nazi sympathizers use microblogging platform Twitter with “relative impunity” and often have more followers than accounts sympathetic to Daesh terrorist group, according to a report released Thursday.
The report tracked the growth and activity of 18 leading white nationalist and Nazi sympathizers groups over several years as well as checking into the Twitter activity of the groups’ followers. The number of followers for those groups reached 25,406 in 2016, up more than 600 percent from the 3,542 followers the groups had in 2012.
The report by researchers working at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, compared the rise of white nationalism on Twitter to Daesh.
Daesh has been decried by world governments and the media as a group that is quite savvy on social media, but researchers found white nationalists and Nazis have much more influence on Twitter.
“Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day,” the report claims.
Although Twitter has shut down more than 360,000 accounts linked to Daesh, data shows the company has not really confronted white nationalist groups at all.
Among the number of accounts where a user’s location could be estimated, the largest percentage of white nationalist and Nazi users lived in the United States, with the United Kingdom a distant second. Small percentages of users live in Europe, Canada and South America.
By far, the most commonly used hashtag among these groups was #whitegenocide.
“The most popular theme among white nationalists on Twitter was the concept of “white genocide,” the notion that the “white race” is directly endangered by the increasing diversity of society,” the report claims. “Social media activists tweeted hundreds of times per day using repetitive hashtags and slogans associated with this trope.”
Although he has denied association with white nationalist groups, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is undeniably extremely popular with the community, the study found.
“Followers of white nationalists on Twitter were heavily invested in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” according to the study’s authors. “White nationalist users referenced Trump more than almost any other topic.”
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