Unfolding #Anonymous on Twitter
The networks behind the mask
Keywords:anonymous; digital methods; network analysis; social movements; actor-network theory
This paper presents a comprehensive empirical investigation of the range of actors, issues and sub-groups related to the hashtag Anonymous on Twitter between 2012 and 2015. Complementing existing studies that have provided in-depth accounts of Anonymous from a specific point of view, this research provides an overview of the network related to the discursive construction of Anonymous on Twitter from a synoptic standpoint. In particular, the analysis covers three dimensions: the structure and dynamics of the #Anonymous interaction network; the range of issues that Anonymous has been associated with; and the relation between Anonymous and its offshoots. This research provides a descriptive characterization of the topological and semantic complexity of Anonymous and invites to reflect on the simplifications that our vocabulary and methods entail vis a vis the complexity of digital entities delimited by and individuated through hashtags.
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