Understanding Online Migration Decisions Following the Banning of Radical Communities
Giuseppe Russo, Manoel Horta Ribeiro, Giona Casiraghi and Luca Verginer
Proceedings of the 15th ACM Web Science Conference 2023 (2023)
The proliferation of radical online communities and their violent offshoots has sparked great societal concern. However, the current practice of banning such communities from mainstream platforms has unintended consequences: (i) the further radicalization of their members in fringe platforms where they migrate; and (ii) the spillover of harmful content from fringe back onto mainstream platforms. Here, in a large observational study on two banned subreddits, r/The_Donald and r/fatpeoplehate, we examine how factors associated with the RECRO radicalization framework relate to users’ migration decisions. Specifically, we quantify how these factors affect users’ decisions to post on fringe platforms and, for those who do, whether they continue posting on the mainstream platform. Our results show that individual-level factors, those relating to the behavior of users, are associated with the decision to post on the fringe platform. Whereas social-level factors, users’ connection with the radical community, only affect the propensity to be coactive on both platforms. Overall, our findings pave the way for evidence-based moderation policies, as the decisions to migrate and remain coactive amplify unintended consequences of community bans.