Dark Germany: Hidden Patterns of Participation in Online Far-Right Protests Against Refugee Housing


We present a quantitative study of the social media activities of a contemporary nationwide protest movement against local refugee housing in Germany, which organizes itself via dedicated city-level Facebook pages. We analyse data from 2015, containing more than one million interactions by more than 200,000 users. We investigate the temporal characteristics of the social media activities of this protest movement, as well as the connectedness of the interactions of its participants. We find several activity metrics such as the number of posts issued, negative polarity in comments, and user engagement to peak in late 2015, coinciding with chancellor Angela Merkel’s much criticized decision of September 2015 to temporarily admit the entry of Syrian refugees to Germany. Furthermore, our evidence suggests a low degree of direct connectedness of participants in this movement, (i.a., indicated by a lack of geographical collaboration patterns), yet we encounter a strong affiliation of the pages’ user base with far-right political parties.

ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci)