Haters Gonna “Like”: Exploring Canadian Far-Right Extremism on Facebook

Scrivens, Ryan; Amarasingam, Amarnath

The overwhelming focus in the scholarly literature on extremist groups online tends to focus on jihadist groups like the so-called Islamic State and Al Qaeda. With right-wing violence erupting in places like Charlottesville and Quebec City, and with a new generation of extreme right activism coming to the fore, there is a need to better understand how its members communicate online, not only in Canada but around the globe. While the racist “old guard” has maintained its presence in traditional online spaces, a new generation of right-wing extremists are communicating on an array of social media sites, with Facebook at the forefront. Although some scholarship is emerging, relatively little remains known about how right-wing extremist groups make use of these platforms. This gap in the research is particularly prevalent in the Canadian context. In this chapter, we draw from a sample of 34 of Canada’s most prominent far-right extremist group pages on Facebook using a mixed-methods approach. Here we assess the popularity of the group pages, the volume of content, and the types of posts that generate the most user engagement, paired with an in-depth analysis of the group posts that generate the most “buzz” amongst users, exploring who is targeted, why the content is so popular, and how the use of violence is negotiated by the groups.