Racist slurs, and anti-Semitic slurs in particular, have steadily increased on two forums popular with the far right after President Trump’s election, a new study finds.
The Anti-Defamation League analyzed Gab and 4chan’s /pol/ board, digital hubs for white supremacists, and found racist attacks also spiked after Trump’s inauguration and the right-wing 2017 Charlottesville march. The overall trend is a near-continuous rise in racist slurs, with anti-Semitic slurs rising at an especially notable rate.
Anti-black and anti-Semitic posts were declining on 4chan’s /pol/ before Trump’s election, according to the ADL. On November 1, 2016, the words “Jew,” “black” “k*ke” or “n***er” each appeared in approximately 2 percent of all /pol/ posts. At that time on Gab, results for “k*ke” and “n***er” were negligible, with results for “Jew” and “black” hovering just under and just over the one-percent mark, respectively.
Trump’s election changed that. Use of the terms rose dramatically in the run-up to Trump’s January 20, 2017 inauguration. That day, nearly 4 percent of /pol/ posts contained the word “Jew,” more than 3 percent contained “n***er,” and more than 1 percent contained “black” or “k*ke.”
Gab, where posters are less anonymous, saw a similar rise in racist sentiment, although use of explicit terms still remained relatively low. Gab posts referencing “Jew” or “black” approached 2 and 3 percent, respectively.
But the inauguration-fueled hatred never really ended. Although use of the terms fell slightly after Trump’s swearing-in festivities ended, they crept up to the same levels in the first months of his term.
Then a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia sent them soaring again. The August rally, Unite the Right, drove a spike in Gab and /pol/ activity for the word “white,” the study shows. The word, which was slowly increasing in use on /pol/ suddenly appeared in more than 6 percent of /pol/ posts after Unite the Right. Gab saw nearly identical numbers.
Since then, use of “Jew” has trended up on both sites. (“Black” saw a slight dip on Gab, but “k*ke” and “n***er” rose.) By January, “Jew” appeared in more than 3 percent of all Gab posts, more than double its use at the beginning of the study in August 2016.