Sal Hagen published an article in M/C Journal, concerning research into anonymous online forums and how the word ‘trump’ changed on 4chan/pol/ over time.
The text first advocates for anti-structuralist methods when researching dissimulative/anonymous online groups, which sidestep reliance on vague structuralist notions like “alt-right” or “Anonymous” in favour of objective, empirical mapping – despite pitfalls like amplifying extremist and ironic or implicit references.
Putting this into practice, the article then traces the word ‘trump’ on 4chan/pol/ between 2015 and 2018. It uses a range of (text mining) methods to circulate around various perspectives on its associations, e.g. showing carnivalesque discourse during the climaxes of the 2016 U.S. elections.
However, the more playful, crowd-like Trump-delirium didn’t go at the expense of a steady anti-Semitic, extremist current present on /pol/ from the start. This rather grew alongside /pol/’s general growth, with Trump eventually becoming a target for anti-Semitic vitriol himself.