RH Logo


Social media censorship and radicalisation

Paper Title:

The Moral Foundations of Left-Wing Authoritarianism: On the Character, Cohesion, and Clout of Tribal Equalitarian Discourse



Radicalized beliefs, such as those tied to QAnon, Russiagate, and other political conspiracy theories, can lead some individuals and groups to engage in violent behavior, as evidenced in recent months. Understanding the mechanisms by which such beliefs are accepted, spread, and intensified is critical for any attempt to mitigate radicalization and avoid increased political polarization. This article presents and agent-based model of a social media network that enables investigation of the effects of censorship on the amount of dissenting information to which agents become exposed and the certainty of their radicalized views. The model explores two forms of censorship: 1) decentralized censorship-in which individuals can choose to break an online social network tie (unfriend or unfollow) with another individual who transmits conflicting beliefs and 2) centralized censorship-in which a single authority can ban an individual from the social media network for spreading a certain type of belief. This model suggests that both forms of censorship increase certainty in radicalized views by decreasing the amount of dissent to which an agent is exposed, but centralized "banning" of individuals has the strongest effect on radicalization.

Table of contents

Paper PDF