Down the Rabbit Hole

This research project asks: How do people come to believe far-right, extremist, and conspiratorial viewpoints they encounter on social media?

The rise of far-right extremism in the United States and across the world has led to political fractioning, violence, and a mainstreaming of hateful content. Many different far-right groups use the internet to recruit others to their ways of thinking, a term colloquially referred to as “redpilling.” There is a strong popular belief that exposure to extremist content online leads to far-right radicalization and even violence. Understanding why individuals commit ideologically motivated mass violence is of the utmost importance, as is determining the role of social media platforms in hosting and amplifying harmful content. However, the conventional wisdom around online radicalization is deeply simplistic and unsupported by evidence. This project questions popular and scholarly narratives of redpilling and online radicalization, asking instead how and why people come to believe fringe, false, or extremist viewpoints that they encounter on social media platforms.

Publications from this Project

  • Marwick, A., Pippert, C., Furl, K., & Schnabel, E. (in review) “Shapeshifters and Starseeds: Identity, Epistemology, and Disinformation on Conspiracy TikTok.”
  • Pippert, C., Furl, K., & Marwick, A. (in review) “True Believers, Entertainers, and Skeptical Scholars: Claims and Frames on Conspiracy TikTok.”
  • Marwick, A., Boyles, D., Donnelly, M., Kaczynski, S., Ringel, E., Smith, J., Whitmarsh, S. & Yabase, C. (R&R) “Child-Sacrificing Drag Queens: Historical Antecedents in Disinformative Narratives Supporting the Drag Queen Story Hour Moral Panic.” 
  • Marwick, A. & Furl, K. (in press). “Mountains of Evidence: Processual “Redpilling” as a Sociotechnical Effect of Disinformation.” International Journal of Communication. [Pre-Print]
  • Marwick, A. & Partin, W.(2022). “Constructing Alternative Facts: Populist Expertise and the QAnon Conspiracy.” New Media and Society. [Open-Access]
  • Marwick, A., Clancy, B., and Furl, K. (2022). “Far Right Online Radicalization: A Review of the Literature.” Bulletin of Technology & Public Life. [Open Access]
  • Kuo, R. & Marwick, A. (2021). “Critical Disinformation Studies: History, Power, and Politics.” Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review, 2(3). [Open Access]
  • Marwick, A., Kuo, R., Cameron, S. J. & Weigel, M. (2021). Critical Disinformation Studies: A Syllabus. Center for Information, Technology, & Public Life (CITAP), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. [Open Access]
  • Marwick, A. (2018). “Why Do People Share Fake News? A Sociotechnical Model of Media Effects.” Georgetown Law Technology Review 2: 474-512. [Open Access]


This project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and CITAP’s philanthropic funders, including the Knight Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, & the Luminate Group. Writing and research time was provided by fellowships at the Institute of Arts & Humanities at UNC-CH and the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University.