The far-right ideology succeeds in Barcelona attacks

Article published on Sept. 13, 2017
Article published on Sept. 13, 2017

Donald Trump's victory highlighted the American alt-right success among social networks. Nowadays, the influence of the "alternative right" over the media and the political agenda through Internet activism represents a role model for the Spanish far-right politics. Twitter reactions after Barcelona and Cambrils terror attacks are a clear image. 

Xenophobia's development supported by social networks users, influencers and several news websites related to a movement coordinated by the publicist and former White House strategist, Steve Bannon, is making that a country built by immigrants experiences events like those of Charlottesville. 

A graph has been developed by using a social network analysis tool in order to show the interaction among Twitter users between 20pm and 23pm on 17 August, the day of Barcelona terror attacks. The immediate response from citizens, as well as the dissemination of news and opinions among social media can also be observed in this graphic presentation. 

That day we all were astonished because of the high spirits the hashtag #stopislam boasted until it became Trending Topic. 

For further information about this graph, please click here

While it is understandable to feel angry before such terror attack, a coordinated response made by a crowd of people beyond the primate need of spreading the danger, place and news (meaning #terrorattack, #Barcelona, #LasRamblas) is unusual after the initial shock.

At the same time that thousands of people were talking about this matter (#attacks, #Barcelona, #Ramblas), there were some other hashtags spreading by what is known as critical mass in Sociology. Several tweets, such as #StopIslam, #stopislamism, #migrants, #refugees, #terroristswelcome, #stopjihadism, #stopterrorism, were placed as bait to attract other Twitter users, influencers and the aforementioned critical mass. 

If we zoom in on this graph, we will notice that it was not about a spontaneous reaction. Both hashtags and the most active users responsible of its social promotion must be analysed: @militaespana@patriaomuerte, @patria_espana, @fe_cantabria (Falange Española profile), @hispaniafortius@leonddamasco, @verdaderaizqda and @lafalange. These profiles acted as meeting points where some users reacted, replied, discussed and interacted with others with the same or a radically different ideology (for instance, @ElOrdenMundial, @_Ju1_, @el_felips). 

That exchange of views made the simplest and effective hashtag in communication become Trending Topic: #stopislam. And from Twitter it arrived to press and TV news, discussions and debates, talks on bars or summer terraces, Whatsapp xenophobic chains and threatening graffities. It is easy to understand that a whole country reacts not only to the Barcelona terror attack, but also to the series of terror attacks throughout Europe. It is absolutely execrable.  

However, we must not forget that there are strategists trying to guide our anger and opinions to a specific political direction. Beyond the rejection of jihadism and terrorism, there is islamophobia. But this neurosis is merely catalysing the amalgam of masses who, tired of political correction and full of anger and fear, would not hesitate to support more vigorous political movements against the foreigner, against the different one.