Right-wing terrorism is a growing threat for democratic societies globally. With rising numbers in death tolls and far-right narratives creeping into the mainstream, the extreme right assumed a new face through the digital dissemination of extremist propaganda and trivialising violence – thereby attracting new audiences. Greater cooperation is required between the state, researchers, and tech companies to address the manipulative strategies used by these groups.
The recent wave of far-right terrorist attacks challenges academic knowledge on extremist violence and demands a new perspective. Rather than acting on behalf of political organizations, most of the perpetrators promote digital hate communities that predominantly interact via visual language such as memes. These images, which are often-humorous, aim to accustom users to violence and make neo-Nazism accessible and appealing through modern aesthetics and pop-cultural references. Hence, to fully understand contemporary far-right terrorism and its underlying worldviews, we need to systematically analyse visual mobilisation and persuasion strategies. This blog post makes the case for a visual culture perspective and transdisciplinary visual analysis to examine how far-right actors radicalise sympathisers in loosely organised online networks.