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Feds give Michigan State $585,000 to study ‘far right’ social media use

Even as Americans today celebrate the temporary expiration of the Patriot Act, plans are underway by the feds to increase monitoring of Internet activity.

The Department of Justice recently awarded Michigan State University a $585,719 grant to study  “far-right” groups’ social media use, an effort aimed at battling violent extremism, the Washington Free Beacon reports.

The grant summary states:

There is currently limited knowledge of the role of technology and computer mediated communications (CMCs), such as Facebook and Twitter, in the dissemination of messages that promote extremist agendas and radicalize individuals to violence.

The proposed study will address this gap through a series of qualitative and quantitative analyses of posts from various forms of CMC used by members of both the far-right and Islamic extremist movements.

We will collect posts made in four active forums used by members of the far-right and three from the Islamic Extremist community, as well as posts made in Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, YouTube, and Pastebin accounts used by members of each movement. The content appearing across all of these sites will be imported into the qualitative software package NVivo and coded using techniques derived from grounded theory methods.

The findings will be used to document both the prevalence and variation in the ideological content of posts from members of each movement. In addition, we will assess the value of these messages in the social status of the individual posting the message and the function of radical messages in the larger on-line identity of participants in extremist communities generally.

The Free Beacon points out that “while the grant does not name the ‘far-right’ groups that would be examined, other federal agencies have devoted their energy to the sovereign citizen movement.”

“The Department of Homeland Security released a report on the movement, whose members believe that U.S. laws do not apply to them, just as the White House held its summit on violent extremism. The administration did not use the phrase ‘Islamist extremism’ at the summit,” the Beacon continued. “DHS stirred controversy in 2009 when it issued a report on right-wing extremism, which included veterans returning from combat as a potential terrorist threat.”

RELATED: Indiana University Develops Program To Spot, Report Hate Speech on Twitter

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.