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Define American recently released a new report, “’Immigration Will Destroy Us’ and Other Talking Points.” It describes how popular anti-immigration YouTube videos frame the issue and their influence on offline conversations and perceptions. One section, co-authored by Francesca Tripodi, Shauna Siggelkow, and Sarah E. Lowe, analyzed the content of the 23 most-watched videos with anti-immigration messages and documented how they promote their narrative. Many of the videos promote the Great Replacement Theory narrative, a white nationalist theory that believes white genocide is imminent. Due to how frequently this narrative appears in the videos, researchers named the network of channels that publish these videos the Great Replacement Network (GRN).

Most of this content comes from a very small number of creators, and two of the three most prominent channels are also the largest anti-immigrant organizations in the United States.

These channels attack and instill fear about legal immigrants (Muslims) and illegal immigrants (Latine). The tactics they use to persuade include:

  • Calls to logic and common sense (“trust me, I’ve done the research”)
  • Appeals to fear
  • Malinformation, or true statistics or data taken out of context to support false conclusions

The report reveals how YouTube influences immigration attitudes among key demographics, and the alarming sway the GRN holds (they have over 100 million views). Define American shares this research in the hope that content creators and similar groups can use this research to counter this narrative and tell positive stories for immigrants online, debunking each of the GRN’s claims one YouTube video at a time.

Read the full report


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