Daniels – The Algorithmic Rise of the alt-Right

The Algorithmic Rise of the “Alt-Right

by Jessie Daniels

[ Daniels, Jessie. 2018. “The Algorithmic Rise of the ‘Alt-Right'” in Contexts, Winter 2018 (March 28)]

Points & Quotes:

“There are two strands of conventional wisdom unfolding in popular accounts of the rise of the alt-right. One says that what’s really happening can be attributed to a crisis in White identity: the alt-right is simply a manifestation of the angry male who has status anxiety about his declining social power. Others contend that the alt-right is an unfortunate eddy in the vast ocean of Internet culture. […]
While the first explanation tends to ignore the influence of the Internet, the second dismisses the importance of White Nationalism. I contend that we have to understand both at the same time.” (61)

“The rise of the alt-right is both a continuation of a centuries- old dimension of racism in the U.S. and part of an emerging media ecosystem powered by algorithms.” (62)

“This iteration is newly enabled by algorithms, which do several things. Algorithms deliver search results for those who seek confirmation for racist notions and connect newcomers to like-minded racists, as when Dylan Roof searched for “black on white crime” and Google provided racist websites and a community of others to confirm and grow his hatred. Algorithms speed up the spread of White supremacist ideology, as when memes like “Pepe the Frog” travel from 4chan or Reddit to mainstream news sites. And algorithms, aided by cable news networks, amplify and systematically move White supremacist talking points into the mainstream of political discourse. Like always, White nationalists are being “innovation opportunists,” finding openings in the latest technologies to spread their message. To understand how all this works, it’s necessary to think about several things at once: how race is embedded in the Internet at the same time it is ignored, how White supremacy operates now, and the ways these interact.” (62)

“In a sense, we’ve managed to push white nationalism into a very mainstream position,” @JaredTSwift said. “Now, we’ve pushed the Overton window,” referring to the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse. […]
“Among White supremacists, the thinking goes: if today we can get “normies” talking about Pepe the Frog, then tomorrow we can get them to ask the other questions on our agenda: “Are Jews people?” or “What about black on white crime?” And, when they have a sitting President who will re-tweet accounts that use #whitegenocide hashtags and defend them after a deadly rally, it is fair to say that White supremacists are succeeding at using media and technology to take their message mainstream.” (64)

“[T]he post-Obama era proves the lie that we were ever post-racial, and it may, when we have the clarity of hindsight, mark the end of an era. If one charts a course from the Civil Rights movement, taking 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education) as a rough starting point and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the close of Obama’s second term as the end point, we might see this as a five-decades-long “second reconstruction” culminating in the 2016 presidential election.”
“Taking the long view makes the rise of the alt-right look less like a unique eruption and more like a continuation of our national story of systemic racism. ” (64)

Annotation Summary for Title of Work

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “ion identity: the alt-right is simply a manifestation of the angry”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “identity: the alt-right is simply a manifestation of the angry”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “male who has status anxiety about his declining social power.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “male who has status anxiety about his declining social”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” Others contend that the alt-right is an unfortunate eddy in the”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Others contend that the alt-right is an unfortunate eddy spent a”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “” vast ocean of Internet cultu”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “vast ocean of Internet culture.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “” vast ocean of “

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “. While the �rst explanation tends to ignore the “

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “. While the �rst explanation tends to ignore the “

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Ameri-ence of the Internet, the second dismisses the importance”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Ameri-ence of the Internet, the second dismisses the importance”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “White nationalism. I contend that we have to understand both”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “White nationalism. I contend that we have to understand”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “ascen-at the same time.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “n-at the same time.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “I thought the news from this was done w”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “read that he had come back and he said there were good people”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “in the White nationalist rally and he salvaged their message.””

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “It’s certainly not the �rst time that a sitting president has openly”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “heralded White supremacy from the oval of�ce, but it is the”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “time that the ideology of White supremacy from both ext”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “and mainstream sources has been spread through the algorit”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “of search engines and social media platforms.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “are two strands of conventional wisdom unfolding”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “There are”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “There are two strands of conventional wisdom unfo”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “in popular accounts of the rise of the alt-right. One says”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “in popular accounts of the rise of the alt-right. One says”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “what’s really happening can be attributed to a crisis in”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “what’s really happening can be attributed to a crisis in W”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “building race into the “race-less” internet”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “The rise of the alt-right is both a continuation of a centuries- old dimension of racism in the U.S. and part of an emerging media ecosystem powered by algorithms.”

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “The rise of the alt-right is both a continuation of a centuries- old dimension of racism in the U.S. and part of an emerging media ecosystem powered by algorithms.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “The ideology of the contemporary alt-right is entirely consistent with earlier manifestations of extremist White supremacy, with only slightly modifications in style and emphasis. This incarnation is much less steeped in Christian symbolism (few crosses, burning or otherwise), yet trades heavily in anti-Semitism. Even the Islamophobia among the alt-right has more to do with the racialization of people who follow Islam and the long history of connecting Whiteness to citizenship in the U.S. than it does with beliefs about Christendom. “

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “U.S. than it does with beliefs about Christendom.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “This iteration is newly enabled by algorithms, which do several things. Algorithms deliver search results for those who seek confirmation for racist notions and connect newcomers to like-minded racists, as when Dylan Roof searched for “black on white crime” and Google provided racist websites and a com-munity of others to confirm and grow his hatred. Algorithms speed up the spread of White supremacist ideology, as when memes like “Pepe the Frog” travel from 4chan or Reddit to mainstream news sites. And algorithms, aided by cable news networks, amplify and systematically move White supremacist talking points into the mainstream of political discourse. Like always, White nationalists are being “innovation opportunists,” finding openings in the latest technologies to spread their mes-sage. To understand how all this works, it’s necessary to think about several things at once: how race is embedded in the Internet at the same time it is ignored, how White supremacy operates now, and the ways these interact. “

Page 3, Underline (Magenta):
Content: “This iteration is newly enabled by algorithms, which do several things. Algorithms deliver search results for those who seek confirmation for racist notions and connect newcomers to like-minded racists, as when Dylan Roof searched for “black on white crime” and Google provided racist websites and a com- munity of others to confirm and grow his hatred. Algorithms speed up the spread of White supremacist ideology, as when memes like “Pepe the Frog” travel from 4chan or Reddit to mainstream news sites. And algorithms, aided by cable news networks, amplify and systematically move White supremacist talking points into the mainstream of political discourse. Like always, White nationalists are being “innovation opportunists,” finding openings in the latest technologies to spread their mes- sage.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Critical writing about the Internet has followed, demonstrating the myriad ways race is built into digital technologies.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “s. The DOS commands of “master” disk and “slave” disk prompt”

Page 3, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: ““innovation opportunists,””

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “To understand how all this works, it’s necessary to think about several things at once: how race is embedded in the Internet at the same time it is ignored, how White supremacy operates now, and the ways these interact.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “ves. The nearly ubiq”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “white hand-pointer acts as a kind of avatar that, in turn, bec”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ““attached” to depictions of White people in advertisements,”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “default “universal” Internet us”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Don Black created Stormfront in 1996. The site hosted”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “podcast created by Duke and pushed to more than 300,000”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “ay registered users at the si”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “despite all this evidence that race is coded into”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “despite all this evidence that race is coded into these platforms, the ideology of color-blindness in technology—both in the industry and in popular understandings of technology—serves a key mechanism enabling White nationalists to exploittechnological innovatio”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “white nationalists as innovation opportunists”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “The �lmmaker D.W. Grif�th is recognized as a cinematic”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “visionary who helped launch an art form and an industry.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “visionary who helped launch an art form and an industry. His signature �lm, Birth of a Nation (1915), is also widely regarded”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” site. In 1999″

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “d registered the domain name martinlutherking.org, and”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “and set”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “as “disgustingly racist.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “d. a site that appears to be a tribute to Dr. King. But it is what I”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “e call a “cloaked site,” a sort of precursor to today’s “fake ne”

Page 4, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: ” “cloaked site”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “At the �lm’s premiere, members of the Klan paraded ou”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” a Cloaked sites are a form of propaganda, intentionally disguising”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the theatre, celebrating its depiction of their group’s ris”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “sign of southern White society’s recovery”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “from the humiliation of defeat in the”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “War.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “” Capitalizing on this new technology, the KKK created �lm com”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “nies and produced their own feature �lms”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “with titles like The Toll of Justice (1923) and The Traitor Within (1924), screening them at outdoor events, churches, and schools. By the m”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “le authorship in order to conceal a political age”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “of the 1920s, the Klan had an estimated �ve million members.”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “This growth was aided by White supremacists’ recognition”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the opportunity to use the new technology of motion pi”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “to spread their message.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ““In a sense, we’ve managed to push white nationalism into a very mainstream position,” @JaredTSwift said. “Now, we’ve pushed the Overton window,” referring to the range of ideas tol- erated in public discourse.”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: ““In a sense, we’ve managed to push white nationalism into a very mainstream position,” @JaredTSwift said. “Now, we’ve pushed the Overton window,” referring to the range of ideas tol- erated in public discourse.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” Among White supremacists, the think-ing goes: if today we can get “normies” talking about Pepe the Frog, then tomorrow we can get them to ask the other questions on our agenda: “Are Jews people?” or “What about black on white crime?” And, when they have a sitting President who will re-tweet accounts that use #whitegenocide hashtags and defend them after a deadly rally, it is fair to say that White supremacists are succeeding at using media and technology to take their message mainstream.”

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “Among White supremacists, the think- ing goes: if today we can get “normies” talking about Pepe the Frog, then tomorrow we can get them to ask the other questions on our agenda: “Are Jews people?” or “What about black on white crime?” And, when they have a sitting President who will re-tweet accounts that use #whitegenocide hashtags and defend them after a deadly rally, it is fair to say that White supremacists are succeeding at using media and technology to take their message mainstream.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” Other cloaked sites suggest that slavery “wasn’t thatbad.” This strategy, shifting the range of the acceptable ideas to discuss, is known as moving the “Overton window.” White nationalists of the alt-right are using the “race-less” approach of platforms and the technological innovation of algorithms to push the Overton window. “

Page 5, Underline (Blue):
Content: “This strategy, shifting the range of the acceptable ideas to discuss, is known as moving the “Overton window.” White nationalists of the alt-right are using the “race-less” approach of platforms and the technological innovation of algorithms to push the Overton window.”

Page 5, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: ““Overton window.””

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “networked white rage”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “CNN commentator Van Jones dubbed the 2016 election a “Whitelash,” a very real political backlash by White voters. Acrossall income levels, White voters (including 53% of White women) preferred the candidate who had retweeted #whitegenocide over the one warning against the alt-right. For many, the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement coupled with the putative insult of a Black man in the White House were such a threat to personal and national identity that it provoked what Carol Anderson identifies as White Rage”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the post-Obama era proves the lie that we were ever post-racial, and it may, when we have the clarity of hindsight, mark the end of an era. If one charts a course from the Civil Rights movement, taking 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education) as a rough starting point and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the close of Obama’s second term as the end point, we might see this as a five-decades-long “second reconstruction” culminating in the 2016 presidential election..”

Page 5, Highlight (Yellow):
Content: ” “second reconstruction””

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Taking the long view makes the rise of the alt-right lookless like a unique eruption and more like a continuation of our national story of systemic racism. “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the tech industry, run by boy-kings steeped in cyberlibertarian notions of freedom, racelessness, and an ethos in which the only evil is restricting the �ow of information on the Internet (and, thereby, their pro�ts). In the wake of Charleston and Charlot- tesville, it is becoming harder and harder to sell the idea of an Internet “where there is no race… only minds.” Yet, here we are, locked in this iron cage. “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the “Whitelash” is algorithmically ampli�ed, sped up, and circulated through networks to other White ethno-nationalist movements around the world, ignored all the while by a tech industry that “doesn’t see race” in the tools it creates.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “media, technology, and white nationalism”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Today, there is a new technological and media paradigm emerging and no one is sure what we will call it. Some refer to it as “the outrage industry,” and others refer to “the mediated construction of reality.””

Page 6, Underline (Red):
Content: “Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis. 2017. “Media manipulation and disinformation online,” Data & Society Research Institute. An important and wide-ranging attempt to understand a variety of online platforms and how they have been manipulated by bad actors.”

Page 6, Underline (Red):
Content: “David Neiwert. 2017. Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. Brooklyn, NY: Verso Books. Thorough reporting and concise prose provide a compelling look at the very American nature of the “alt-right.””

Page 6, Underline (Red):
Content: “Sa�ya U. Nobel. 2018. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York: New York University Press. A crucial look at the way search engines and the algorithms that power them reproduce Whiteness and discriminate against peo- ple, especially women, of color.”

Page 6, Underline (Red):
Content: “Whitney Phillips. 2015. This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Main- stream Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Although Phillips now eschews the term “trolling,” this is a valuable critique and exploration of the portion of Internet culture that provided fertile ground for the rise of the ‘alt-right.’”

Page 6, Underline (Red):
Content: “Samuel C. Woolley and Phillip K. Howard. 2016. “Political Com-munication, Computational Propaganda, and Autonomous Agents,” International Journal of Communication 10: 4882-4890. An analysis of the manipulation of information by politi-cal bots and the politics of an era in which people encounter information architecture through devices and over the Internet of things. “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “To grasp the 21st century world around us involvesparsing different in�ections of contemporary racism: the overt and ideologically committed White nationalists co-mingle with “

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