In the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, an unprecedented number of American Muslims ran for public office, including the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. This study analyzes the anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant Twitter discourse surrounding Ilhan Omar, one of these two successful candidates. The results identify three categories of accounts that linked Omar to clusters of accounts that shaped the Islamophobia/xenophobic narrative: Influencers, Amplifiers, and Icons. This cadre of accounts played a synergistic and disproportionate role in raising the level of hate speech as a vast network containing a high proportion of apparently inauthentic accounts magnified the messages generated by a handful of provocateurs.
- hate speech
- social media