“Hashjacking” the Debate: Polarisation Strategies of Germany’s Political Far-Right on Twitter
Twitter is a digital forum for political discourse. The emergence of phenomena like fake news and hate speech has shown that political discourse on micro-blogging can become strongly polarised by algorithmic enforcement of selective perception. Recent findings suggest that some political actors might employ strategies to actively facilitate polarisation on Twitter. With a network approach, we examine the case of the German far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and their potential use of a “hashjacking” strategy (The use of someone else’s hashtag in order to promote one’s own social media agenda.). Our findings suggest that right-wing politicians (and their supporters/retweeters) actively and effectively polarise the discourse not just by using their own party hashtags, but also by “hashjacking” the political party hashtags of other established parties. The results underline the necessity to understand the success of right-wing parties, online and in elections, not entirely as a result of external effects (e.g. migration), but as a direct consequence of their digital political communication strategy.
KeywordsHashtags Networks Political communication strategies
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