Online activity of mosques and Muslims in the Netherlands: A study of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter

Frank van Tubergen, Tobias Cinjee, Anastasia Menshikova, Joran Veldkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Research on Muslim minorities in western societies has mainly focused on offline behavior, such as mosque attendance, whereas little is known about their presence in the online world. This study explores the online visibility and activities of all (478) mosques in the Netherlands. We collected data on personal websites and four social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube). The majority of mosques have a website (52%) and an account on Facebook (61%). Less often used are Twitter (17%), Instagram (17%) and YouTube (19%). On social media platforms, mosques strongly differ in their activity and number of followers. We find evidence to suggest that Salafist mosques, which tend to have a strict ideology, are more active on Twitter and YouTube, and also attract a larger share of followers on Facebook than non-Salafist mosques. Our more fine-grained analysis on Twitter shows that Salafist mosques in the Netherlands cluster together. Followers of Salafist mosques make up a community of users who are mainly connected to each other (“bonding ties”), and much less so to other users (“bridging ties”). We conclude with a discussion of opportunities for studying the online presence and activities of mosques and Muslims in western societies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0254881
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2021

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