Mobilizing against Islam on social media: hyperlink networking among European far-right extra-parliamentary Facebook groups

The far right is notoriously effective in its use of digital media to mobilize people and to build a sense of collective identity around oppositional cultures. Yet, while research has begun to explore far-right groups’ social media hyperlinking activities, relatively little is known about the purposes and communicative functions of this form of communication. By combining social network analysis and qualitative content analysis on Facebook data obtained from 17 PEGIDA and Generation Identity Facebook pages in the period around the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ (2015–2017), this exploratory study investigates the linked source types and their purposes. We find that the groups predominantly link to mainstream media, far-right media and far-right non-institutional groups. While there are great overlaps in the communicative functions and purposes of the links for the two networks, the PEGIDA groups mainly focus on the promotion of political issues, especially around the opposition to third-country (Muslim) immigration, while the GI groups use them for self-promotional purposes. These differences are largely explainable by the groups’ adverse (online) mobilization aims.

Tags: European far right, Facebook, Generation Identity, hyperlinking, PEGIDA, Social Media