Visualizing Networks of Hate

The project “Networks of Hate: Visualizing Extremist Celebrity Networks” sought to visualize the movement of these ideologies through these extremist celebrities. Although many journalistic pieces as well as reports by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League often publish articles and other informative reports on who these celebrities are, but to date there was no way of seeing how all of these groups are interconnected in a visual form. Some articles do make an attempt to point out the interconnectedness of movements like Gamergate and the rise of the Alt Right through figures like Milo Yinnaopoulos (who was made famous because of his involvement with Gamergate and then parlayed this fame into more powerful positions at Breitbart and on social media platforms), but of course there are more celebrities than Yinnaopoulos within this movement. Thus, the motivation behind this project was to visualize all of the connections between celebrities and the larger umbrella groups that have been identified as contributing to the rise of this evolved fascism – the Alt Right, the Alt Lite, the Manosphere, and Gamergate.

The Alt Right is an umbrella term referring to multiple organizations that adhere to a white supremacist ideology and was coined by Richard Spencer in 2008, and includes organizations like Identity Evropa, Atomwaffen, and Neo Nazis (Marwick & Lewis, 2017). The Alt Lite, in response to the increased attention to these groups after the Charlottesville rally in August 2017 that resulted in the death of a counter protestor, “broke off” from the Alt Right and positions itself as more geared towards white nationalism as opposed to supremacy and includes groups like the Proud Boys and often nationalistic militias. The Manosphere refers to a loosely connected web-based communities of men’s rights activists, pick up artists, and includes groups the r/TheRedPill, Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), and A Voice For Men. Gamergate was included in the list of “groups” to visualize celebrities in because of its role in influencing later online movements in terms of its harassment techniques and because of celebrities from Gamergate then becoming involved in Alt Right, Alt Lite, and Manosphere groups (Lang, 2016). The movement began as a response to women gamers, game journalists, and game developers beginning to speak out against sexism in games and in the industry, and its communities are still active.

Since multiple communities fall under these umbrella terms, and there are hundreds of “key players” within them, the goal of this project was to look at the broader associations shared between the groups in terms of their celebrities. The ideologies being spread by these real and pseudo-leaders of these movements travel through their associations with other groups. The networks that demonstrate this movement will be helpful for scholars, journalists, and other interested persons in seeing how movements influence one another through these individual celebrities.

Julia DeCook

2017-2018 CHI Grad Fellow Cohort

PhD Candidate, Department of Media and Information Studies