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White noise: The political uses of Internet technology by right -wing extremist groups

Alison D Dagnes, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The Internet helps right-wing extremist groups reach and connect with the American public because their message of anti-government sentiment is an attractive one. As the nation continues to grow increasingly disaffected with the political system as a whole, the anti-government message of the extremist Right will prove to be progressively more attractive to those who are not extreme. History has shown that the radical Right has always tapped into the mainstream to reach the disaffected, and ideological surveys show that many of the position stands concerning the size and scope of the federal government are shared by both the extreme and the moderate. Media framing, the process by which articles and features are shaped to provide an understanding context, affords the media one way to describe the extreme right while it offers the extreme right another way of describing themselves. When the extreme takes to the Internet to describe itself, outside the mainstream broadcast media, it is able to form a message that appeals to the public because of its seeming moderation, attention to hot-button issues, and similarities to conventional negative politics. When all is said and done, the Internet simply provides a new forum for the disaffected and politically angry. This forum, however, is incredibly potent in its abilities to deliver a message quickly, affordably, and—most importantly—privately. This opens the door to potentially dangerous political communication between potentially violent and increasingly disaffected people.

Subject Area

Political science|Mass media|Information Systems

Recommended Citation

Dagnes, Alison D, "White noise: The political uses of Internet technology by right -wing extremist groups" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110477.