Influencers, amplifiers, and icons: a systematic approach to understanding the roles of Islamophobic actors on Twitter

Document Type



Graduate School of Media and Communications


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.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly