Influencers, Amplifiers, and Icons: A Systematic Approach to Understanding the Roles of Islamophobic Actors on Twitter

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Social Science Research Council

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Research Article

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Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

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In the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, an unprecedented number of American Muslims ran for public office, including the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. This study analyzes the anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant Twitter discourse surrounding Ilhan Omar, one of these two successful candidates. The results identify three categories of accounts that linked Omar to clusters of accounts that shaped the Islamophobia/xenophobic narrative: Influencers, Amplifiers, and Icons. This cadre of accounts played a synergistic and disproportionate role in raising the level of hate speech as a vast network containing a high proportion of apparently inauthentic accounts magnified the messages generated by a handful of provocateurs.

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