The Gab Project: The Methodological, Epistemological, and Legal Challenges of Studying the Platformized Far-Right

Tim de Winkel, Ludo Gorzeman, Sofie de Wilde de Ligny, Thomas ten Heuvel, Melissa Blekkenhorst, Sander Prins, Mirko Tobias Schäfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this article we describe our five-year research project on the notorious radical free speech service and fringe platform Gab. During these years we scraped an entire platform, prepared it into a dataset for analysis, and opened it up to a broader community of students and researchers. Each of these projects provides us not just with a small slice of platformized far-right culture but also with a larger sphere of a fringe platform. However, the overarching goal of the Gab project was to contribute to a methodology for the study of the contemporary platformized far right. The atypical nature of the project posed many methodological, epistemological, and legal challenges. It therefore kicked off an institutional learning process about the possibilities, legal boundaries, and best practices for research compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In this article we argue that the study of the platformized far right should have a thorough understanding of the medium on which the object is present, as well as the methods with which the object is captured. What is more, scholars that use digital tools and data methods for capture and analysis of web platforms must become literate in operating them. Consequently, data-driven research on the far right is naturally interdisciplinary and therefore cooperative and adherent to the principles of open science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-71
JournalJournal of Right-Wing Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2024


  • fringe platforms
  • platformized public sphere
  • digital humanities
  • alt-right
  • critical data studies
  • Gab


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