YouTube is one of the largest social media platforms out there, allowing users to circumvent mass media channels in order to share their own ideas and views that may not be picked up by mainstream media. This ability to connect with others on unpopular ideas allows for platforms like YouTube to create isolated groups that produce and consume their own media. This is particularly prominent in the world of the German far-right, where ideas of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia are rampant.
This study analyzes the creation of a collective identity in terms of the far-right sphere of German-speaking YouTube, with the goal of determining the role that YouTube plays in fostering these kinds of communities, as well as which topics have the largest impact and are most often conversed about within the sphere.
The researchers asked a series of questions, deciphering what kind of overlapping communities can be identified within the sphere, as well as what topics are discussed within the communities. The researchers studied a set of 116 channels with comments that could be analyzed, which yielded a total of 2,298,737 comments and 276,142 unique users. From that point, the researchers checked for an overlap between channels amongst each of the unique users.
The study concluded that the German far-right public on YouTube gets denser and more centralized over time, constructing its own community with alternative media connecting differentiating identity groups. The uniting factor amongst most channels was their desire to be seen as a “new” right rather than the “old” right that most people would associate them with. Overlapping topics included conspiracy theories and refugees in Germany, both not necessarily political issues that have become politically charged.
Adrian Rauchfleisch & Jonas Kaiser (2020) The German Far-right on YouTube: An Analysis of User Overlap and User Comments, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 64:3, 373-396, DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2020.1799690