‘THE GREAT YOUTUBE PURGE OF WRONGTHINK’: ALTRIGHT ADAPTATIONS IN A CHANGING PLATFORM ECOLOGY
Keywords:youtube, altright, discourse analysis, banning, free speech
Social media platforms are under increasing pressure to counter racist and other extremist discourses online. The perceived "independence" of platforms such as YouTube has attracted AltRight "micro-celebrities" (Lewis, 2020) that build alternative networks of influence. This paper examines how the discourses of one online AltRight "manfluencer" responds to tightening controls over allowable speech. We present analysis of the YouTube channel of the Swedish far right bodybuilder and motivational speaker Marcus Follin, or "The Golden One". His specific approach to politics includes fitspiration, motivational speaking, and other kinds of neoliberal technologies of the self that in his ideology come together as a call to defend white motherlands and join hands between European nations to fight against globalism and multiculturalism. Through conducting post-foundational discourse analysis of a corpus of 40 videos, we identify three prominent strategies that he uses to respond to increased control of online spaces. The first is to increase cultural encryption, constructing social media as territories in a “metapolitical” war will be won culturally. The second is partial articulation, where he stays focused on positive messages, and his ideology is explained as being about love, not hate. The third is migration, diversification, and new platform-specific foci, through which he finds new and ‘independent’ online spaces and builds new audiences. We conclude that we need more nuanced understandings of how far right ideologies might thrive and build resilience in response to pressure on their speech.