Like many others researching the use of the internet by the radical right in recent years, I have advocated for closer attention to be paid to the use of social media by these groups. And, I stand by this. However, pre-2010 work into the use of websites, blogs, forums and chatrooms are still incredibly relevant when investigating the rise of these groups’ internet usage. This is especially important when it comes to examining the internet usage of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP).
The Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) emerged in 2015 as the political branch of the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN). Led by Matthew Heimbach and Matthew Parrott, the TWP claims to be the US’ “first political party created by and for working families”. Like other radical right groups that have already been examined,the TWP claims that it is not a racist party and, as such, assert that they should not be seen as affiliated with other racist groups across the US. Rather, the group focuses its propaganda around three main issues: religion or the superiority of Christianity, the importance of traditional family values and the stronghold of a native in-group over US geographical territory.
The TWP’s social media usage is not one to ignore. To date they have seen great success on a variety of platforms. Most notably on YouTube, the group had gathered more than 6,600 subscribers by May 2018. In terms of Twitter followers, the group has also seen success with the TYN having 6,700 Twitter followers by August 2017. However, by January 2018, the TYN and TWP Twitter accounts had both been suspended.
Despite numerous followers, even prior to the suspension of the TYN and TWP Twitter accounts, little insight could be gained from examining their usage of Twitter alone. In an examination of data crawled from the official TWP Twitter account between 11 April to 11 August 2017, it appeared that the official TWP party account was mainly using its tweets to promote (by means of hyperlinks) the posts written on its website in the blog section. Beyond this, analysis of the twitter account showed that it mainly comprised of tweets posted using the handle: @TWP. So, what can be gained from following these hyperlinks and examining the TWP blog data? A preliminary examination of this identified that TWP post blogs had two overriding purposes.
First, through their various blog posts, TWP focus on outlining issues they perceive to be at the heart of insecurity and instability in the US such as those of rising immigration or a perceived loss of the US’ nationalism. By focusing on these issues, they position themselves as able to provide answers and explain why these issues exist. This can primarily be seen by a set of keywords used within the TWP blogs related to first “what America is” or more explicitly “what America is not” and most importantly why the US is in its current state of “weakness”. For example, the keyword ‘political’ is often used by TWP with a negative connotation. Such as in – ‘political correctness’ which is used to refer to a government trying to rewrite history. For example:
“It is an insult to history and to our gallant ancestors to attempt to rewrite who they were and what they were fighting for by burning a pinch of incense to gods of Political Correctness”.
Similarly, ‘political processes’ refer to a system they describe as: “dominated by a handful of wealthy Jews with an acutely Zionist agenda”and the US being part of a ‘political machine’that is “anti-white globalist”.
Second, we identified keywords related to how TWP instruct their followers how to behave in light of the issues in the US. The most obvious example of this can be seen through the use of the keyword ‘new’. ‘New’is used with a positive connotation and is linked to the Traditionalists aims and community. For example, TWP focus on the importance of bringing in new recruitsand emphasising interest in the party. See, the following quote:
“Our inbox and voicemail are a few days behind as we struggle to keep up with the rate that teenagers, young adults, and new recruits of every age and walk of life are expressing interest in helping and supporting our work”.
TWP also use ‘new’ to talk about the need to ‘create’ a new nation and homeland. For example:
“Your goal should be to literally create a new nation and leave the old species behind. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! Tonight we stand proud”.
Whilst this is just a preliminary analysis, data extracted from the blogs section of the (now defunct) TWP website highlight the continuing importance of the online space for examining far-right groups. Without a doubt, investigating these blogs does not give us the same understanding into how people are engaging with this propaganda or reactions to it. However, it does tell us more about these groups’ perspectives and how they seek to engage with the perceived problems of society to aid their own propaganda. With the rise of a diverse range of radical right groups, it is not unusual that their use of various social platforms will also be diverse. In order to better understand these groups and the potential threats that they pose, it is important that we continue to examine all aspects of their social media use, not just Twitter and Facebook.
Dr. Lella Nouri is a Senior Fellow at CARR, and Senior Lecturer of Criminology at Swansea University. This blog is based on work in which the author collaborates with Professor Nuria Lorenzo-Dus based in the Department of Linguistics at Swansea University. Her profile can be found at:
© Dr. Lella Nouri. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors’ and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).