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The Alt-Right Pipeline: Why’s it so Dangerous?

The Alt-Right Pipeline and its Impact on Young Men Online

The Alt-right (also known as the Alternative Right) is a term coined by Richard B. Spencer, used to describe a set of far-right ideals that center on white identity and ‘western supremacy’. For some context, Spencer is the head of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.

In recent years, the conversation around the alt-right has become more mainstream. And, the significance of it has especially arisen since Donald Trump’s presidency, and events such as the 2016 Charlottesville rally and the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Now that we’ve established what the Alt-Right is, what is the ‘Alt-Right Pipeline’? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the gateway into the alternative right’s ideology, which in recent years has occurred predominately online. Apps and websites such as YouTube and TikTok have been used as hosts to spread this ideology. What’s worse, it appears to be getting easier and easier for algorithms to suggest dangerous ideologies to users. Especially young boys.

In fact, TikTok user @Jacobious tested the algorithm’s part to play in being exposed to the alt-right. He did this by creating a brand new TikTok account and setting the user’s age to 12 years old. The first video he liked was one about ‘tips for boys’, to ensure the algorithm acknowledged his engagement, he commented on the video too. Only a few scrolls later was an Andrew Tate video. For those unaware, Tate recently got banned across social media platforms after his content was recognised to be inciting violence towards women and encouraging misogynistic thinking. Already we can see how quickly users can go from interacting with rather innocent content to extreme right-wing beliefs.

The alt-right pipeline is overly accessible online
© Unsplash

But the alt-right pipeline isn’t something new that’s grown alongside the rise of TikTok. Those who were active on YouTube in the mid-2010s are probably familiar with SJW cringe compilations. Some of which racked up over a million views per video.

For those unfamiliar with the term SJW, it’s an acronym meaning ‘Social Justice Warrior’. A label that was heavily used in the discussion of identity politics online and referred to someone advocating for socially progressive views. Whilst the term ‘SJW’ isn’t used as much anymore in online spaces as it once was, the term has appeared to have been replaced by the label of ‘wokeness’ – but they both mean the same thing.

So, what part do these ‘anti-SJW’ compilations have in the alt-right pipeline? The mocking of the basic ideals that these people are pushing (feminism, BLM, LGBTQ+ rights, etc.) opens a path to right-wing commentators on YouTube, and the leap is so subtle it’s almost unnoticeable. In fact, it seems like the logical step, hence why the YouTube algorithm suggests such videos.

The subtly of the pipeline is the core of its danger. And it easily preys on young boys and men. These right-wing groups and individuals behind the online presence of the alt-right use SJWs (and in turn everything they stand for) as an explanation for the problems that many young men struggle with, such as mental health.

They tell this impressionable audience that the reason they are depressed is that women now get to go to work too and provide, that they are no longer subservient to their husbands. Anti-semitic and racist propaganda is fed to them until eventually they internalise these messages and start to believe them. This aspect of the alt-right are often referred to as ‘incels’, meaning ‘involuntary celebate’ – a movement actually started by a woman looking for community, but was eventually co-opted by the right. Pervasive misogyny is masked by the illusion of male brotherhood and support, but it ultimately isolates these individuals from the world around them, making them easier to indoctrinate.

To boil it down into one sentence: the alt-right pipeline is a gradual method of radicalisation into right-wing beliefs. Beliefs which have resulted in lives lost, responsible for the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, responsible for the killing of 2 women and 4 men on a college campus as a misogynistic attack because the shooter couldn’t ‘have’ the “girls [he’s] always desired but was never able to have”, and the death of Heather Hayer at the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

So, how do we combat it?

Like most things, there is no easy fix. But we can start by having conversations about this method of indoctrination and these communities that pray on vulnerable and impressionable people – especially men and boys. We can also have open discussions about why this pattern of thought is harmful, and teach ourselves and others to always question what we are told. As well as educating ourselves on the history and current issues perpetuated by racism, misogyny, homophobia and more. But also to look at how patriarchal society harms men and not feminism like so many of the alt-right like to claim.

It’s also time for social media giants to take more action against those using their platforms to spread hate and incite violence. Yes, freedom of speech is a constitutional right, but it does not mean freedom of speech without consequences. And, yes Instagram can choose who it does and doesn’t have on its platform. Because Instagram isn’t a constitutional right.

Featured Gaming & Tech

Gen Z Dropping Social Media Due to Toxic Culture

Gen Z is reshaping the Internet with its unique approach to social media

While many teenagers find themselves addicted to social media, a report published by Pew Research Center has shown data pointing towards a decrease in social media use since 2019.

The truth is that Gen Z uses each social media app less, and Instagram’s data reports have lent credibility to this statement. The only social media platform with increased, continued use is TikTok, which is the source of most centennials’ social media addiction. According to Forrester, weekly usage of TikTok surpassed that of Instagram in 2020.

Gen Z has grown with unlimited access to the Internet and has made them more critical of the quality and culture imposed by the apps they grew up with. “Like” culture, which emphasizes a fake persona where everyone’s living a wondrously charmed life through Instagram filters, is flatly unrealistic.

On top of that, Gen Z has lower attention spans than other generations, prompting the rise of clickbait posts left and right to hook them into companies’ content. This has left Gen Z disenchanted with YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

social media apps
Social Media Apps © Reuters

Then there’s the issue that these apps keep changing to please several different demographics, many of which are evolving with time. Instagram and Facebook are currently targeted towards millennials and older generations, but Gen Z is starting to grow and are flocking to TikTok instead of the Meta-owned social media giants.

The short-form aspect of TikTok delivers a seemingly endless trail of content for users, but it’s also considered more positive and wholesome than Instagram. It’s easier to express yourself when there’s less judgmental behaviour, particularly when compared to Instagram, which is notorious for being a judgemental platform. That’s not to say that TikTok isn’t without its troll and hater population, but one feels less attacked when the app went viral due to trends and dancing.

Instagram users tend to create finsta’s and second accounts on top of having the main account, which is usually also private. However, TikTok users rarely have a second TikTok. This is often because users are more concerned with privacy than they are with being superstars.

Gen Z is completely aware that Meta’s apps want to copy TikTok, and Instagram’s most recent attempt to implement a full-face feed backfired harshly, with even Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian criticizing Instagram for being copycats.

Featured TV and Film

Bald And Bankrupt: Is the Risk-Taking Travel Vlogger Retiring?

The latest episode of Bald and Bankrupt explores the UK’s crumbling communities. But does a return to Britain suggest the travelling days over?

He’s one of the most famous faces on YouTube. For years, Benjamin Rich, aka, Bald and Bankrupt has been travelling to far away and sketchy lands in search of adventure in the most unlikely of places. After a brief hiatus, Benjamin is back and has unveiled his news dangerous location. And it’s the UK!

Benjamin Rich (creator of Bald and Bankrup
Benjamin in India (The New Leam)

The English blogger and vlogger first started his YouTube channel in 2018 after his British business went bust and he filed for bankruptcy. He first moved to India and decided to vlog his adventures discovering unknown places. Benjamin immediately enjoyed his newfound freedom and began exploring other wild destinations that were off the beaten track.

The common thread amongst Benjamin’s destinations is that they are unusual. When travelling, Benjamin avoids tourist attractions and museums. He prefers to explore the backroads, eat at the little family businesses, and talk to inconspicuous locals. Often, these traits lead Benjamin into some bizarre scenarios that couldn’t be found on Trip Advisor.

Some of Benjamin’s most successful videos are of his excursions to Eastern Europe. In June 2019, Benjamin took his camera and visited “Europe’s largest poor Roma neighbourhood,” in Slovakia. Lunik IX has a notorious reputation. It has one of the lowest living standards in Europe. The majority of the 2,500 inhabitants don’t pay rent, and so, have no access to electricity, water and gas. Health standards are so low, in fact, that the slum is infested with scabies, meningitis, hepatitis and head lice.

Most people wouldn’t dare to set foot in a place that has such a reputation. However, Benjamin arrived with an open mind and a warm smile, and to everyone’s surprise, he received an even warmer welcome! Subscribers were quick to share how Benjamin proved their preconceived ideas of the Roma community wrong. “It’s amazing how fluent some of those kids are in English,” said one viewer. “The guy in the flat looks like a very kind person. Wish him the best,” said another, startled at the humanity of the vlog.

In just over 4 years, Benjamin has travelled around the world, from Chornobyl to Haiti. He has explored almost every obscure location that is supposedly rife with danger and poverty, in the attempt to break down social stigmas. But in the latest vlog, fans were shocked to see that Bejamin’s latest episode features a tour of the UK, visiting Cornwall, Blackpool and Bristol – to name a few.

In true Bald And Bankrupt fashion, the episode included interviews with everyday people on what life is like in disadvantaged and rundown communities. He also offered the viewers a brief history lesson into the disgusting levels of poverty in the UK and the decline of the British high street. One subscriber said, “Bald goes to Syria – “this is a beautiful country” Bald goes to Bristol – “is it safe here?” Viewers were surprised to see that the world’s 5th largest economy had such stark levels of deprivation.

For fans of the channel, a return back to the UK indicates a sort of full circle moment for Benjamin. For over 4 years, he has been relentlessly travelling the world and, at some point, he will inevitably return back to blighty. In a recent interview, Benjamin addressed his upcoming plans for the vlog, “Bald and Bankrupt will be over and this chapter of my life will be over and I’ll go and do something else creative. Probably, I’ll become a photographer or I’ll become a writer or something else, I don’t know. But probably, I’ve got another nine months, a year left, and then adios amigos.” It seems Benjamin will likely retire from vlogging, but his appetite for travel is still there.

In just 4 years, Bald and Bankrupt has changed the face of travel vlogging, racking up over 500 million hits on YouTube and 4.5 million subscribers. Its incredible popularity implies that travel enthusiasts are sick and tired of watching privileged backpackers staying in fancy hotels and exploring the ‘top 10 hipster cafés to visit in Barcelona.’ It is refreshing to see the world through an unfiltered lens.

In the age of social media, most of what we see is fake and edited. Bald and Bankrupt has redirected the camera towards real places, real communities, and real people, and for that, it’s the greatest travel program on the web.