Which way to the wheat field? Women of the radical right on Facebook

AbstractAt what rates and in what capacity do women participate in extreme far-right ("radical right") political online communities? Gathering precise demographic details about members of extremist groups in the United States is difficult because of a lack of data. The purpose of this research is to collect and analyze data to help explain radical right participation by gender on social media. We used the public Facebook Graph API to create a large dataset of 700,204 members of 1,870 Facebook groups spanning 10 different far-right ideologies during the time period June 2017 - March 2018, then applied two different gender resolution software packages to infer the gender of all users by name. Results show that users inferred to be women join groups in some ideologies at a greater rate than others, but ideology alone does not determine leadership opportunities for women in these groups. Furthermore, our analysis finds similarities between historical women's organizations such as the 1920s Women's Ku Klux Klan and contemporary online "wheat field" groups designed specifically for women.


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