The discourse of hatred, virality and the amplification of the theory of Islamisation

We have seen how the use of metaphors is commonplace in messages about the invasion of Islam. The type of arguments provided in the discourse, illustrated through a series of tweets in this chapter and without any claim to completeness, shows different kinds of invasion metaphors through which the existing Islamophobic discourse is highlighted. We now argue in this section for the connection between the amplification of Islamophobia through social networks and the technical strategies that lead to further disseminating hate speech, to the extent that these strategies bring us closer to common guidelines in countering conspiracy theories.

The use of metaphors or other rhetorical figures or linguistic resources can help to transmit messages globally with greater force and impact. Strategies employed to get higher dissemination of messages can incite hatred, violence or discrimination are currently also transmitted more broadly through a technical and planned management of social networks (Gualda, 2020). These strategies are of particular importance when intended to disseminate emotional discourses that lead to social polarisation, which is commonplace regarding Islamophobic conspiracy theories.

In this sense, the search for virality, as a privileged speaker to get one’s message across on some social networks, highlights the existence of organised groups that promote hate speech, a discourse based on the creation of threats, whether real or imaginary, trying to gain control of the narratives. It joins to the development of bots or the production of disinformation and fake news (Ferrara, 2017; Allem & Ferrara, 2018; Ferrara et al., 2016; Marwin & Lewick, 2017).

Hashtags like #stoplslam, #stoplnvasion, #defendEurope and others shared in the sphere of Twitter, allow visualising the international scope of this strategy in the networks. The practices of computer manipulation in networks for the control of narratives are considered hybrid threats (Cirdei & Ispas, 2017). They have the frequently purpose to radicalise or polarise anti-Islam sentiment and convey the message of a Europe that is threatened, cannot fight the danger or even worse, deliberately orchestrates it through multicultural policies.

If in previous times anti-immigration, anti-Islam, bigotry and violence were usual (as it was registered and denounced on many occasions by a variety of NGOs, see in Spain the ‘Movimiento contra la antitolerancia’,, today we observe the rapid international dissemination of hate speech that can reach towards different groups or communities. The decisive growth of hate speech in online communication that is developed with the support of bots, for example, through social networking platforms or in blogs, presents risks for cohesion and coexistence, as well as for the stability of democracy (Gualda, 2020). This circumstance also affects the credibility, legitimacy and reputation of the businesses and citizens as interested today in the detection of hate speech (Hewitt et al., 2016; Bennet & Livingston, 2018).

On the other hand, hate speech is frequently disseminated in the context of the transmission of disinformation and fake news. The fact that the majority of European citizens have declared, through a survey, that they do not know how to identify this type of news, according to the barometer of false news and online disinformation (High-Level Expert Group on Fake News and Disinformation, 2018), makes it seem not at all strange that strategies are sought for fighting the dissemination of this type of news, and not exclusively in terms of conspiracy theories about Islamisation, as would be the case, for example, of platforms such as No Hate Speech Movement, Islamophobia Hub or Citizen Platform Against Islamophobia (HopeNotHate, 2020; Council ofEurope, 2020).

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