Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Jessie Daniels

Committee Members

Juan Battle

Erica Chito-Childs

Maria Y. Rodriguez


Computational Social Science, Social Media, Digital Sociology, Race, Immigration


This dissertation examines the racial discourse circulated on Gab, a microblogging and social networking platform, by the far right to proliferate hate speech, and how the far-right discourse has evolved on the platform. Gab was created 2016 in response to mainstream social media’s increase of content moderation and deplatforming of extremist users to curtail hate speech and harassment. The platform gained a substantial number of new users after the Charlotteville incident of 2017. In this thesis, I examine the creation of Gab, as an alternative social media platform, as a strategic site of socio-technical innovation, as well as the important part far-right discourse on Gab plays in the asymmetric polarization phenomenon of the media ecosystem. This project asks: How has Gab developed and what discourses about race circulate on Gab?

To answer these questions, I draw on a large dataset of digital trace data of the entire Gab platform of approximately 10 million posts on Gab from 2016 to 2019. This constitutes an archive of the far-right activities on an important alternative social media platform. I use computational methodologies including structural topic modeling, word embeddings and qualitative analysis to examine the materials, and form conclusions about the impacts of asymmetric polarization of the far right on social media. I argue that Gab occupies an important position in the social media ecosystem in the context of mainstream social media platforms’ deplatforming post- Charlottesville, and the absence of legislation that regulates hate speech. Gab, as an opportunistic innovation, is emblematic of an alternative social media ecosystem that flourishes online, drawing in users who are rejecting, and rejected by, mainstream social media platforms and searching for platforms with looser content moderation that reflect their absolutist freedom-of-speech stance. This environment is conducive to asymmetric polarization, spreading anti-liberal, anti-mainstream media, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigration discourses. These ideological strings are not new but consistent with earlier articulations of the ideology of white supremacy ideology, just taking place on a newer platform that itself may enable new variations of the same theme.