about this project

The motivation behind this project was to provide a visualization of the celebrities of the alt-right and other extremist groups that have risen in recent years. Particularly, many of these celebrities have intersections with other groups - for example, Milo Yiannopoulos famously has ties with the Gamergate movement as well as the Manosphere along with being an Alt Lite celebrity. Other figures that may not be of significant national prominence like Steve Bannon are still, nonetheless, influencing the discourse in the digital sphere. A significant number of Alt-Right celebrities harness the power of the digital platforms like YouTube in order to spread their message and gain support for their movement. Numerous resources exist in terms of identifying who the prominent celebrities are, but primarily in long-form text format. Using these sources,

I compiled the data and chose to display 43 prominent celebrities of the Alt-Right, Alt-Lite, Gamergate, and the Manosphere that were primarily using digital means for mobilization. 

 

Of course, this graph does not represent every single prominent figure within these movements, however, it is a useful tool in being able to visually see the networks that are being formed. A large motivation to limit the number of "celebrities" is, of course, the aesthetic quality of the network - the more nodes there are, the more confusing and harder to navigate. This graph will be the first in hopefully a series of visualizations to identify more detailed networks of these extremist groups. The sampling was thus as follows: (1) the person was identified by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, news media organizations, Wikipedia, or the Anti Defamation League as a leader in the movement; (2) is predominantly present on online platforms like YouTube, Reddit, and other websites/forums. Thus, some known "celebrities" of the movement were left out of this current network.

 

Visualizing networks is extremely helpful in terms of identifying patterns of affiliations with organizations such as the ones in the current political climate in the U.S. and beyond. Although the current network map does not account for measures such as centrality, reliance, or any other statistical/quantifiable measure of influence, it provides a helpful way of identifying the affiliations that these celebrities have - thus making it possible to identify which extremist groups may be affecting one another. For instance, many have pointed to movements like GamerGate and the Manosphere as gateway ideologies into more extremist beliefs, and often the vehicles of these ideologies are through the celebrities that spread their messages across the digital landscape.

 

More detailed information about each group is available on the subpages under "groups" on this website.