The Alternative für Deutschland’s Facebook Fanpage is a Prime Location for Rightist Online Discourses in Germany

One rather intriguing feature of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party is their very strong social media presence, especially on Facebook. I’m currently updating and expanding my previous analysis of this page, and the stats are impressive. From March 2013 until June 2015, the federal party’s account has posted 2188 updates, roughly 2.5 per day. Even more impressive are the 57,034 posts by other accounts (about 69 per day). While it is easy to buy likes, that level of activity is hard to fake: This is a busy place for europhobes and immigration sceptics.

As everywhere on the internet, things get a little scary once you start looking at the comments: people left 558,990 of them. You read that right, more than half a million in under 28 months. Because I’m interested in dialogues/exchanges, I’ve extracted those posts that received at least five comments. The figure is 10,652, or 13 per day. 229 of these posts could not be inspected, presumably because they have been deleted or otherwise tampered with. The remaining 10,424 now reside on my harddisk, which glows in the dark.

AfD facebook comments
Comments on the Alternative für Deutschland’s (AfD) Facebook wall over time

Looking at the distribution of comments over time, there is a moderate downward trajectory, as well as characteristic spikes on election days (the federal election in 2013, the EP election in May 2014, three Eastern state election in August/September 2014, and two Western state elections in 2015).

Before further digging into the texts, I’ve had a look at the distribution of commentators. Apart from the AfD themselves, 52,347 unique accounts have commented on the subset of 10,424 posts. Half of these (25,275) have commented only once, but an insane 6,792 have commented at least 10 times. The number of accounts that have 100 or more comments under their belt? 477. And then there is one account with 1938 comments. Go figure.

10 thoughts on “The Alternative für Deutschland’s Facebook Fanpage is a Prime Location for Rightist Online Discourses in Germany”

  1. dear kai, how did you extract the comments from the page? which software have you been using and how are you cooperating with fb? thank you!

    • Dear Jacob, I’m using the excellent Rfacebook package for R. You will need a long-lived token. I’ve first pulled the posts on a day-by-day basis (you can pull about 200 posts in one go). I’ve then extracted the most popular posts and used a loop to pull the comments on each, letting the computer sleep for a second during each cycle. Facebook does not publish information on the API limits, but they seem to be quite generous. If you run into the limits, waiting for a few seconds more should do the trick.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.