Far-Right Extremist Accounts Surging on Mainstream Platforms

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As mainstream social media companies’ content moderation teams shrink and policies fail, extremists are flourishing and no longer have to hide on the fringe. 

Note: All figures provided are as of March 2024.

The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) monitors hundreds of far-right extremist accounts across social media, including individuals, local organizations, and far-right political parties. Between June 2023 and March 2024, several of these accounts have shown substantial growth on Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, while losing subscribers on Telegram, a fringe platform embraced by extremist groups when they weren’t allowed on the mainstream platforms. It seems now that they no longer need fringe accounts to push their hateful ideas.

The lack of adequate moderation resources on mainstream platforms is well-documented. Every platform, at differing levels, hosts harmful anti-LGBTQ+ content regarding conversion therapy, continues to host members and affiliates of the Identitarian movement, whose ideology advocates for the ethnic cleansing of Europe, and YouTube even hosts established neo-Nazi political parties such as Greece’s Golden Dawn. YouTube has continued to platform extremists over the years, and in some cases, monetizes their bigoted content, while Twitter has become a safe haven for every kind of hate you can imagine. TikTok is not immune either, having been the impetus for the spread of neo-Nazi memes like “Aryan Classic.” 

In the United States, the international white supremacist movement White Lives Matter’s (WLM) California chapter increased its Twitter following from 8,839 to 14,000 (+5,161) from June 2023 and March 2024, representing a 58 percent increase. Meanwhile, their Telegram channel has only grown from 1,106 to 1,252 subscribers (+146). Similarly, WLM California’s Gab account, a platform originally meant to be a “free speech social network” opposed to Twitter, only grew from 499 to 529 (+30), representing an even smaller six percent increase in followers. WLM California’s Telegram channel will post sparsely, a maximum of two to three times a day, while their Twitter account is much more active. On Twitter, WLM California will post similar content to Telegram, but more often. They will also post more “jokes” meant to appeal to a wider audience, bolstering their recruiting efforts.

A comparison of WLM California’s posts on Twitter (left) and Telegram (right). On Twitter, they attempt to appeal to mainstream audiences through extreme antisemitism, while on Telegram they advertise their hateful activities and members more openly (Source: Twitter, Telegram)

Far-right influencer and Trump ally Jack Posobiec saw his Twitter following rise from 2,100,000 to 2,400,000 (+300,000), representing a 14 percent increase, and his subscribers on YouTube grew from 12,600 to 18,600 (+6,000), representing a 48 percent increase. Meanwhile, his Telegram channel demonstrated a stark decrease in subscribers, going from 162,649 to 146,867 (-15,782), a 10 percent decrease. 

Neo-Nazi and director of the Nationalist Network Ryan A. Sanchez, who attempted to capitalize on recruitment efforts during the recent border standoff between Texas and the federal government, didn’t have a presence on Twitter in June 2023, but created an account in August. Since then, he has amassed 2,082 followers, while his Telegram channel’s subscribers dropped from 6,095 to 5,959 (-136), representing a two percent decrease.

In Canada, Rob Primerano (“Rob Primo”), an influential figure and anti-LGBTQ+ organizer in the white supremacist Diagolon movement, has also seen a marked increase in followers across social media channels. On Twitter, Primerano’s following grew from 14,900 to 17,300 (+2,400), a 16 percent increase. His YouTube channel grew at a similar rate, going from 2,630 to 3,020 subscribers (+290), a 15 percent increase. On TikTok, Primerano’s following went from 36,900 to 38,200 (+1,300), a smaller four percent increase, while his Instagram followers grew from 34,700 to 61,300 (+26,600), representing a staggering 77 percent increase. During the same time period, his Telegram subscribers dropped from 1,774 to 1,747 (-27), representing a two percent decrease.

Rob Primerano posts an image for his 61,000 followers on Instagram saying “deport them all,” targeting migrants, and captioned “Fook All Of them!”

In Australia, neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell, who was sentenced to jail time in October 2023 for a 2021 violent assault against two hikers, and his organizations have all benefited from Twitter’s lack of moderation policy. Sewell himself created an account in December 2023, and quickly amassed a following of 10,600 while his Telegram channel only grew from 9112 to 10,132 (+1,020), representing an 11 percent increase. The European Australian Movement (EAM), led by Sewell, also created a Twitter account in December 2023, gaining 629 followers. EAM’s Telegram channel, on the other hand, saw a drop in subscribers, from 3,497 to 3,379 (-118), a three percent decrease. The National Socialist Network (NSN), also Sewell’s brain-child, created a Twitter account in November 2023, and sits at 1,260 followers. Their Telegram channel similarly saw a drop in subscribers, going from 5,506 to 5,351 (-155), a three percent decrease.

In Austria, de-facto leader of the Identitarian movement Martin Sellner is more active on mainstream social media than ever before. Sellner was recently caught advocating to members of the far-right German party Alternative Für Deutschland to “remigrate,” or ethnically cleanse, the country of migrants. Sellner also received nearly $1,700 in donations from the Christchurch, N.Z., shooter, who murdered 51 Muslims and attempted to murder another 40 at mosques in New Zealand, and even extended an invitation to him to visit Austria. In June 2023, Sellner was using a ban-evasion account on Twitter with 9,177 followers (which GPAHE flagged and got suspended), but now boasts 52,300 (+43,323) following the reinstatement of his official account, representing an outrageous 470 percent increase in followers. His Telegram channel also continues to grow, albeit not at the rate his Twitter account has, going from 56,786 to 66,706 subscribers (+9,920), a 17 percent increase. Sellner remains banned on YouTube, although GPAHE has flagged over a dozen videos featuring him and his hateful rhetoric, including two monetized videos. Sellner also has a channel on the far-right YouTube alternative, Rumble, which hosted Republican primary debates, and grew his following from 365 to 1810 (+1,445), a 396 percent increase. Keeping Sellner to the fringes of video-hosting platforms has prevented him from gaining a large following and further spreading his hateful speech, the type that incites violence, but his renewed access to Twitter and callous disregard by YouTube threatens the safety of their users.

In France, Identitarians and those pushing the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory are enjoying their time in the spotlight. Anne-Thaïs du Tertre d’Escoeuffant, better known as Thaïs d’Escufon, formerly a member of the antisemitic organization Action Française and the youth group Les Identitaires (“The Identitarians”) of Génération Identitaire (Generation Identity, GI) until it was banned by France is one of the most prolific. On Twitter, despite using several ban-evasion accounts, including one flagged by GPAHE and temporarily suspended, D’Escufon has grown her following from 20,600 to 61,200 (+40,600), a 197 percent increase. Her YouTube channel, despite hosting videos pushing the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, grew from 165,000 to 207,000 subscribers (+42,000), a 25 percent increase. Her TikTok channel also continues to grow rapidly, going from 34,700 to 104,500 followers (+69,800), a 201 percent increase. Since her mainstream channels, which feature racist and anti-feminist content, are flourishing, her fans don’t need to download Telegram to follow her, leading to her subscriber count there dropping from 23,079 to 22,201 (-878), a four percent decrease. In some cases, D’Escufon will use Telegram as a subsequent resource for her YouTube videos, to casually hide her hateful beliefs but still linking back to the video itself.

Thaïs d’Escufon sends her Telegram subscribers over to her YouTube page to discuss how the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory affects the number of “real men” in France (Source: Telegram. Text in the image is translated from French.)

Collectif Némésis (Nemesis Collective) is a French anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim women’s group that claims to represent “Western women” against “the dangerous impact of mass immigration.” Their popularity on Twitter has exploded since June 2023, going from 9,113 to 59,500 followers (+50,387), a 533 percent increase. Their YouTube channel has also grown at an alarming rate, going from 3,400 to 7,850 subscribers (+4,450), a 131 percent increase. Similarly, their Instagram following has grown from 12,500 to 23,000 (+10,500), an 84 percent increase. With such rapid growth across mainstream platforms, Collectif Némésis’ Telegram channel only grew from 3,207 to 3,726 (+519), a 16 percent increase, slower growth than on the mainstream platforms.

Debout la France (France Stand Up) is an anti-immigrant and conspiratorial political party founded in 1999, whose leader Nicolas Dupont-Aignan pushes the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory and advocates against migration from Africa due to “creeping replacement.” The party’s Twitter page hasn’t grown much, going from 38,800 in August 2023 to 39,200 (+400), only a one percent increase. However, their YouTube channel has grown considerably, from 118,000 to 152,000 (+34,000), or a 29 percent increase. Inversely, their Telegram channel has lost subscribers, going from 4,237 to 4,138 (-99), demonstrating a two percent decrease.

In Greece, the Greek National Party (GNP)(Εθνικό Κόμμα ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ), led by former Golden Dawn member Ilias Kasidiaris as an attempt to subvert Golden Dawn’s ban in the country, has grown on both Twitter and YouTube. Kasidiaris is currently serving a 13-year jail sentence for his key role in acting as a “criminal organization under the appearance of a political party.” GNP’s Twitter following has increased from 13,100 to 14,800 (+1,700), a 13 percent increase. On YouTube, the group has increased its subscriber count from 8,060 to 9,850 (+1,790), a 22 percent increase. Their content on YouTube is rife with racist claims typical of Golden Dawn: blaming immigrants as the “primary source of crime,” echoing “Great Replacement” conspiracy rhetoric such as Greeks “becoming a minority,” and claiming that Greece is becoming “Islamized” (i.e., turning into a Muslim country). Similar to the other extremist groups, the Greek National Party saw a decline in Telegram subscribers, dropping from 1,940 to 1,831 (-109), a six percent decrease.

The Greek National Party’s YouTube channel now boasts almost 10,000 subscribers. The channel’s links send the user to the Greek National Party website (Source: YouTube)

In Italy, Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy, FDI), the ruling party with a direct evolutionary line to Mussolini’s Partito Nazionale Fascista, and led by current Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, has their content available on all major platforms. They are also affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, an extreme far-right organization based in the United States responsible for the authoritarian Project 2025 plan, which will target abortion, sexual and reproductive health rights, sex education, and other issues, including DEI programs, climate change, civil rights, and marginalized communities, especially the LGBTQ+ community. Meloni’s government shares similar sentiments, as they opposed the “Zan bill,” which was made to make bigoted attacks against women, the LGBTQ+ community, and those with disabilities illegal as hate crimes. Meloni and her party members also spew “Great Replacement” rhetoric about being “replaced” by migrants. On Twitter, FDI has grown their follower count from 278,500 to 300,500 (+22,000), an eight percent increase. Their YouTube subscriber count has grown at a similar rate, increasing from 311,000 to 330,000 (+19,000), a six percent increase. FDI’s TikTok grew from 62,300 followers to 111,800 (+49,500), representing a 79 percent increase. On Instagram, their followers increased from 307,000 to 357,000 (+50,000), a 16 percent increase. On Facebook, FDI increased their follower count from 518,000 to 542,000 (+24,000), demonstrating a five percent increase. While they’ve grown by tens of thousands in followers on mainstream platforms, FDI’s Telegram channel has seen a drop in subscribers, going from 10,597 to 10,032 (-565), a five percent decrease.

In Portugal, the far right political party Chega! (Enough!), founded in 2019 that frequently advocates for bigotry against the Roma and LGBTQ+ community, while also pushing COVID denialism, enjoys a presence on all mainstream platforms. On Twitter, Chega has increased their following from 131,200 to 162,700 (+31,500), a 24 percent increase. They showed similar growth on YouTube, going from 129,000 to 164,000 subscribers (+35,000), a 27 percent increase. Their TikTok following has skyrocketed from 17,900 in September 2023 to 34,300 (+16,400), demonstrating a 92 percent increase. On Meta’s platforms, Chega’s influence has also been growing. On Instagram, they have increased their follower count from 64,000 to 182,000 (+118,000), a worrying 184 percent increase. They grew less quickly on Facebook, raising their follower count from 169,000 to 196,000 (+27,000), or a 16 percent increase. Their Telegram channel remains incredibly small compared to their mainstream presence, increasing their subscriber count from 4,358 to 6,558 (+2,200) since June, a 50 percent increase, which is still nowhere close to the hundreds of thousands that follow Chega on Meta’s platforms.

As levels of hate crimes and incidents continue to increase transnationally, including in the United States, Canada, and Australia, it’s more important than ever to prevent the spread of harmful rhetoric that can lead to such crimes. With a reported number of over five billion social media users in 2023, social media platforms bear a responsibility, which they have not met, to ensure the safety of their own users by preventing the further spread of content inciting hatred and violence.

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