The Stop Hate for Profit coalition calls on technology companies to deplatform Tucker Carlson and other repeat perpetrators spreading the “Great Replacement” theory because of their significant role mainstreaming ideologies that normalize hate, foment fear and buoy extremists.
We also call on them to enforce their hate speech policies against the Great Replacement theory and white supremacy more broadly. The consequences of allowing such content to run unfettered on social media platforms have been devastating. These racist and antisemitic ideologies posit a toxic overarching conspiracy that strikes at the heart of faith in the United States as workable democracy founded on fair, free and accessible elections. Instead they accuse Jews, “global elites”, Democratic leaders and others of using democratic institutions and processes to eliminate White Christian Americans – or what Tucker Carlson calls “legacy Americans,” thus providing the justification and incitement for undermining elections at any cost, and for political violence. The mainstreaming of this conspiracy serves as an accelerant to the erosion of our democracy, political divisiveness, increased toxicity online, and decreased faith in public institutions.
A key promoter of the extremist Great Replacement theory is Tucker Carlson, who pushes this conspiracy theory through his immensely popular show on Fox. He has also amassed a sizable audience on social media, with 5.2 million followers on Twitter, nearly 5 million on Facebook, and 1.8 million on Instagram. As early as 2021, white supremacists were praising Carlson’s promotion of the Great Replacement theory, the racist, antisemitic and xenophobic conspiracy that posits that white Americans are at risk of being disenfranchised by non-white immigrants, sometimes described euphemistically by Carlson as “demographic change” or “replacing the population.” He has elevated the conspiracy theory that Democrats are plotting to replace “legacy American” voters with immigrants in more than 400 episodes of his show and discussed the falling white birth rate and shifting gender roles, another key component of the conspiracy, in over 200 episodes.
We believe that words matter and tha this kind of rhetoric fuels rampant hate and emboldens extremists. Such hate-filed and noxious language leads, in our opinion, to the normalization of such rehetoric, to the spreading of similar hate speech, and to people using this language as the justification for commiting heinous acts of violence, including the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, the mass murder in Christchurch targeting Muslim people, the targeting of Latin Americans in El Paso, and now, the racially-motivated attack claiming the lives of Black supermarket shoppers in Buffalo. This adoption of the Great Replacment theory was clearly present in the Buffalo shooter’s manifesto – along with his hatred of Black people, Jews, immigrants, and other people of color.
Freedom of speech is not the same as freedom of reach. We should not give those who promote extremism and conspiracy theories a free platform to amplify their inflammatory views. Repeatedly, we’ve seen the link between online hate and offline violence, whereby users access and engage with content promoting hate and violence on platforms—especially those with minimal content moderation and policies—and then sow their grievances through violent ends.
Major mainstream platforms have explicit policies against hate speech, typically prohibiting hateful speech targeting protected groups. For most platforms, “protected groups” means race, religion, nationality, sexuality, gender, gender identity, age, disability, and so forth; some distinguish between historically oppressed or marginalized groups while others do not. But discussions of the Great Replacement theory often go unchecked on social media. Platforms need either to enforce existing policies by removing white supremacist content and ban users who promote it or update their policies to include it.
Below, we provide examples of content that researchers found that demonstrate the wide reach of replacement theory. It has been promoted by white supremacists and elected officials alike. We also summarize the major platforms’ policies related to the theory and make recommendations for how companies can update their policies and improve their detection methods. That replacement theory has become normalized is appalling and should greatly worry us as a nation.
What Platforms Must Do
When it comes to addressing white supremacist and extremist speech, platforms fall short in both policy and technology. Platforms don’t recognize that white supremacist speech, even when it doesn’t directly target someone, is hate speech. We call on platforms to:
Remove content promoting #GreatReplacementTheory and ban those amplifying it
The theory is one of the most vicious and pervasive racist, antisemitic, and anti-democratic conspiracies today, with demonstrated appeal to mass shooters, yet repeat spreaders of the theory such as Tucker Carlson still maintain their perch on social media platforms. Tech companies must make clear that their policies prohibit the Great Replacement theory and deplatform perpetrators of this disinformation.
Consistently apply content guidelines and policies at scale
Major platforms fail to detect and remove large swaths of hateful content as ADL’s report cards show. Most mainstream social media platforms already have rules against hateful speech, images, and conduct, but policies are not consistently or transparently enforced. Large industries, such as the airline or the automotive industries, are not excused for neglecting safety when crashes happen or defects are found even though they serve millions of consumers. Similar standards should be applied to tech companies when they try to pin moderation failures on scale and say it’s too expensive or difficult to address them.
Teach algorithms to distinguish white supremacist speech from general speech on social media
Automated moderation systems are not adequately trained to detect white supremacist speech. To better recognize such speech on mainstream platforms, general language models can be trained using data from extremist sites. Researchers can scrape publicly accessible sites like Stormfront, NS88.com, or white nationalist publications to fine-tune more specific language models.
Create tools to detect the specific features of white supremacist speech
White supremacist speech has distinct features that make it easily identifiable. It centers on discussions of race and “whites,” appends the word “white” to many terms (white women, white children, white genocide) uses plural noun forms (“the Jews” or “the Blacks”), and invokes conspiracy theories. Platforms should invest more into creating, updating, and maintaining tools to spot white supremacist language.
Train moderators to recognize white supremacist speech and imagery
Platforms should train their moderators, both paid and unpaid, to recognize conversations that praise or recommend white supremacist ideology. Civil society organizations can provide expert knowledge and training to moderators to recognize symbols appropriated by hate groups and distinguish legitimate debate from insincere trolling. Trainings should encompass all forms of user-generated content, not just written content.
Examples of How Platforms Allow the “Great Replacement” Theory to Spread
Twitter is one of Tucker Carlson’s largest platforms outside of Fox News, with 5.2 million followers on his personal profile and an additional 42,000 followers on his Tucker Carlson Today profile. In one video posted on the page on April 12, 2021, Tucker Carlson passionately defends the white supremacist replacement conspiracy theory. The description of the video reads: “Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions,” a phrase Carlson repeats twice in the video. Carlson also warns his audience that the left becomes “hysterical” at the mention of replacement theory, but insists “the Democratic party is trying to supplant the current electorate, the voters casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the third world…That’s what’s happening actually, let’s just say it, that’s true.” On Twitter, the video was liked over 10,000 times and retweeted nearly 2,500 times.
Fellow Fox News host Jeanine Pirro also has a history of using her large platform to promote the theory. In August 2019, only weeks after the El Paso shooting, Pirro appeared on the Todd Starnes show and pushed the same violent conspiracy from the shooter’s manifesto. “Think about it,” Pirro told Starnes and the audience, “it is a plot to remake America, to replace American citizens with illegals that will vote for the Democrats.” As a public figure, when Pirro preaches these radical ideas she has significant reach. On Twitter alone Pirro has more than 2.7 million followers and when she shares clips of her Fox News segments she typically receives thousands of likes and hundreds of shares. After reviewing tweets her fans have tagged her in, it is clear they have embraced her conspiratorial talking points.
One user tweeted at Pirro: “All it does is replace American people with foreigners to promote a one world order.” A one world order, more commonly known as New World Order, refers to a popular anti-government conspiracy theory in which a group of tyrannical, globalist conspirators have taken control of most of the world and seek to control the United States and eliminate American freedom. Adherents of this conspiracy are often antisemitic and believe that the Jewish people are the ones controlling the world governments. Another user appears to tie in components of the QAnon conspiracy along with the Great Replacement theory, tweeting at Pirro “Democrats want to replace american voter [sic] with illegal votes” and then suggesting Democrats may be “colluding with drug cartels and child traffickers. Sex traffickers.”
While Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro may be some of the most popular figures on Twitter promoting the Great Replacement, they are far from alone. Every day Twitter users repeated replacement theory talking points in an effort to explain or justify the Buffalo shooter’s terrorist attack. One user explained that the attack could have been prevented had the wall been built, explaining “you can’t have a million illegal aliens enter the nation annually and not create tension and violence in the public.” When another user replies asking what Black Americans at a supermarket have to do with immigration, the original poster attempts to illustrate how, in his opinion, all non-whites are a threat to adherents of this white nationalist conspiracy: “the common thread is that whites feel they are under attack by elements in our society. BLM and black criminality is one. Demographic displacement through immigration is another.”
In another thread discussing Buffalo, one person suggested that the Jewish people were responsible for “dividing and conquering” America. Another user responded by repeating many of the points outlined in the shooter’s manifesto: “No more race mixing. We’re already under attack and have been for a while. White birth rates have absolutely plummeted and whites will soon be a minority in the states, then no doubt Europe will follow suit.”
Twitter’s hateful conduct policy states that users may not “promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” Twitter’s hateful imagery and display names policy also prohibits images or symbols in profile images or headers, or using one’s username, display name, or profile bio to harass or express hate towards targeted groups.
On Facebook, Tucker Carlson has 1.1 million followers on his personal page and 3.7 million followers on the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” page. The videos posted on the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” page are typically shared between 1,000 and 10,000 times. The same video where Carlson insisted “demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions'' was also shared on the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Facebook page. Since that video was posted on April 12, 2021, it has been viewed more than 27,000 times and shared over 12,000 times. Among the thousands of supportive comments, one user wrote, “This was an eye opening segment. The liberals are changing the demographics of this country in a deliberate way to cement their power forever.” Another warns “Revolutionary War is Coming!”
In another video posted on September 22, 2021, Carlson again promoted the Great Replacement theory. After he discussed a wave of Haitian migrants at the U.S. Southern border Carlson asked his viewers to think about why the Biden administration would allow so many immigrants into our country, insisting “nothing about it is an accident. This is intentional.” He answered his own question and explained “in political terms this policy is called the Great Replacement. The replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far away countries.” This video was viewed nearly half a million times and shared over 11,000 times.
Once again, Carlson’s fanbase regurgitates this harmful narrative in the comments with one person writing, “The first invasion of a country without a shot fired. Complete destruction of the country from within collapsing the country’s economy. They can’t collect enough taxes to pay for all these people coming in. The NWO [New World Order] has arrived.” Another user replies, “You mean no shot fired YET!”
Another Facebook user compiled several examples of Tucker Carlson promoting the theory to show her support and insist it is actually the Democrats who are obsessed with demographics.
Laura Igraham is another Fox News personality with a history of promoting the Great Replacement theory. On Facebook Laura Ingraham has 1.4 million followers and her posts typically have around one thousand likes and are shared a few hundred times. During a segment of her show in October 2018, The Ingraham Angle, she told her viewers “your views on immigration will have zero impact and zero influence on a House dominated by Democrats who want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnetised citizens.” Just one week later, Ingraham shared an article about a spike in illegal border crossings on her Facebook page. The comments on that post reveal how quickly her supporters embrace her extreme talking points and the prevalence of this conspiracy on Facebook. The top comment on the video encourages violence against immigrants, suggesting “start shooting and ask questions later.” Another user echoes Ingrahm’s belief that increased immigration is a Democratic conspiracy to supplant American voters and take control, calling the immigrants referenced in the article “Democratic bodies for the polls.”
In another example of the prevalence of this conspiracy on Facebook, one user openly connected the theory to its white nationalist roots by sharing a racist infographic indicating what he believes to be part of the “white culture” that will be supplanted. Similarly, a page titled “Your Daily Red Pill'' shared a video promoting the Great Replacement theory with its nearly 4,000 followers. They warn that immigrants are coming to conquer Europe, America, and Canada and these cultures, the same fears that motivated the Buffalo shooter to murder 10 people in defense of this percieved attack. Meanwhile, others used memes to share the conspiracy.
Additionally, in the fall of 2021, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York ran a series of ads on Facebook that embraced replacement theory. In the ads, Stefanik warned of a Democrat plot to bring millions of illegal immigrants into the country to “overthrow our current electorate.” These ads strategically play on extremist rhetoric to stoke growing fears that white Americans are under attack and minorities seek to eject them.
Facebook prohibits hate speech, which it defines as “a direct attack against people — rather than concepts or institutions— on the basis of what we call protected characteristics: race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity and serious disease.” Their policy explicitly prohibits “violent or dehumanizing speech, harmful stereotypes, statements of inferiority, expressions of contempt, disgust or dismissal, cursing and calls for exclusion or segregation” as well as harmful stereotypes, which they define as “dehumanizing comparisons that have historically been used to attack, intimidate, or exclude specific groups, and that are often linked with offline violence.”
It also explicitly singles out calls for segregation or exclusion, including: “Explicit exclusion, which means things like expelling certain groups or saying they are not allowed,” political exclusion, economic exclusion, and social exclusion.
Outside of Fox News, Tucker Carlson is able to reach his largest audience on YouTube. The Fox News YouTube channel has nearly 9.5 million subscribers. The “Tucker Carlson Tonight” playlist on the channel has over 8.9 million views. The same video shared on Facebook and Twitter where Carlson insisted “demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions'' was also uploaded by Fox News to YouTube. On YouTube, the video has by far the most views of all of the platforms, with more than 900,000 views as well as 46,000 likes. Unlike other videos on the playlist, the comments for this one are turned off.
In another alarmist video titled “Tucker: They are intentionally stealing the country from American citizens,” Carlson once again promoted the white nationalist conspiracy as fact to his millions of viewers. He defensively insisted “that is not a conspiracy theory” before he continued to describe exactly that. “The whole point of their immigration policy is political control. Replace the population, get a different outcome.” The video was posted on August 2, 2021 and has over 350,000 views and 18,000 likes. The comments reveal his audience embraced his message, with one writing, “The great replacement isn’t a conspiracy theory.”
Laura Igraham’ Fox News YouTube playlist has 2.4 million views and her playlist also includes videos promoting the Great Replacement. In a video uploaded in October 2018, Ingraham told her viewers their views on immigration do not matter to “Democrats who want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever increasing number of chain migrants.” The title of the video, “Ingraham: Border rush and possible election crush” reiterates her position that Democrats are using immigrants to supersede American citizens. This video has been seen more than 117,000 times and liked over 3,000 times.
Another example of the presence of the Great Replacement theory on YouTube is a video of Barbara Spectre, the founding director of Paideia, the European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden, with nearly 30,000 videos. The video contains edited clips of Spectre speaking about multiculturalism and seems to imply a Jewish plot to transform Europe. The edits echo Renaud Camus’ (author of the 2011 essay, “Le Grand Remplacement” or “The Great Replacement”) fear of multiculturalism as a tool to supplant the white race. The comment section reveals that this discrete message was absorbed by the audience. One user expresses concern over “the survival of the european races” and asks for a solution. Another responds that this will likely culminate in a “white uprising.”
Far-right vlogger and activist Lauren Southern also has a history of using YouTube as a platform to elevate the Great Replacement theory. In July 2017 she uploaded a video aptly titled “The Great Replacement” which was viewed well over half a million times before it was deleted.Juxtaposed with clips of violence, Southern highlights demographic changes and immigration statistics and insists that whites are in danger. She was also involved in “Defend Europe” a project led by European white nationalists to block the arrival of boats carrying African immigrants.
More recently in September 2021, Lauren Southern joined two other YouTubers to rewatch her infamous Great Replacement video. In this video with over 11,000 views, Southern admitted she no longer believes the primary factor motivating the replacement is ethnomasochism, she doubled down on the theory, insisting geopolitics and immigration policies focused on human rights are the primary drivers. The other two YouTubers provided some pushback on Southern’s ideas and YouTube also provided a label from Wikipedia that warned viewers the “Great Replacement” is a “white nationalist far-right conspiracy theory.” Despite this, the livestream’s chat reveals many of the viewers embraced this racist theory.” One user wrote “theres not a political solution. Things wont get better until they get much worse” while another wrote “liberalism was a mistake. Its a degenerate, decadent society thats replacing its own population.”
A third user writes “the gr [Great Replacement] is true because of the asymmetric application of legitimate ethnic solidarity. the people in power, the cathedral, fear any kind of white european ethnic loyalty, and not for any other group.” Later in the chat this same user suggested segregation was the solution. In the YouTube comment section, similar views are echoed. In one comment liked by the hosts, the user summarized the thoughts shared in the nearly three-hour livestream: “the Great Replacement is real.”
YouTube prohibits hate speech, including all “content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups” based on attributes such as age, disability, ethnicity, race, immigration status, religion, gender, gender identity, sexuality, and so forth. They explicitly forbid content encouraging violence or inciting hatred “against individuals or groups based on any of the attributes noted above” as well as threats: “we treat implied calls for violence as real threats.” Its policy extends to creators who encourage such abuse by their viewers as well, including any creator who “repeatedly targets, insults and abuses a group based on the attributes noted above across multiple uploads” or exposes such groups “to risks of physical harm.”
The shooter’s livestream of the attack was posted to Twitch, an Amazon company. While it was removed after a few minutes, but was still downloaded and reposted elsewhere and shared widely across mainstream and fringe social media.
In one video discussing the Great Replacement theory, a user points to Jewish philanthropist and far-right bogeyman George Soros and suggests “Soros has set the wheels in motion…” The same user later adds “I don’t believe that theory, but it is kind of interesting.”
Twitch prohibits “hateful or harassing behavior, or conduct that encourages or incites hate or harassment in any way,” including “promoting, glorifying, threatening, or advocating violence, physical harm, or death against individual(s) or groups on the basis of a protected characteristic, including age.”
The prohibition includes incitements to violence against groups on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion, glorifying mass violence against such groups, or “sharing hateful images or symbols, including symbols of established hate groups and Nazi-related imagery.” Twitch explicitly bans content that “expresses inferiority based on a protected characteristic,” such as statements of physical, mental, or moral deficiency, and “calls for subjugation, segregation or exclusion, including political, economic, and social exclusion/segregation” against such groups. The platform similarly prohibits “content that encourages or supports the political or economic dominance of any race, ethnicity, or religious group, including support for white supremacist/nationalist ideologies,” highlighting as an example “calls to increase fertility rates or restrict immigration to preserve the economic/political/social power of any group.
For months, the Buffalo shooter openly discussed his racist views. He went so far as to state his intent to kill people and livestream his deeds on the platform. His logs show a wholehearted embrace of the Great Replacement theory and all its attendant bugbaboos. For example:
“Humanity will cease to develop if the White race is eliminated… Well lads, it’s time to stop shitposting and time to make a real life effort shitpost. I will carry out an attack against the replacers, and will even livestream the attack via discord and twitch. The discord link is below, by the time this gets out I should be going live.” (Buffalo shooter on Discord – 12/02/2021)
“Jews and n****** are like a parasite to White civilization, they cannot prosper on their own so they must leech off of Whites without regard of returning the resources that let them grow. They will continue stealing labor and welfare until they die. They cannot coexist with us.” (Buffalo shooter on Discord — 01/08/2022)
“Overpopulation of non-White populations > Race mixing and replacement of White population > Death of the White race > Death of advanced human civilization.” (Buffalo shooter on Discord — 01/08/2022)
“But I know the replacement of Whites will result in the end of this life for all people. I will have to show courage I don’t have to combat this replacement. It would be incredibly selfish if I decide that I would rather continue my life as normal, and ignore the cries of help from my race. I have to commit this attack, if I don’t who will? We have to fight The Great Replacement or it will end us all.” (Buffalo shooter on Discord — 03/06/2022)
Following the violent attack, other Discord users have used the platform to express their support for the shooter and his extremist views. One user provided his thoughts on the shooter’s manifesto and support for the violence.
Discord prohibits hate speech and hateful conduct, as well as “the organization, promotion, or support of violent extremism,” although their policies are not as detailed as other platforms’. Its policy enjoins users not to “organize, promote, or participate in hate speech or hateful conduct,” including attacks based on attributes such as “race, ethnicity, caste, national origin, sex, gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, serious illness, disabilities, or other protected classifications.” Discord also prohibits “the organization, promotion, or support of violent extremism, including “glorifying violent events, the perpetrators of violent acts, or similar behaviors.”
Reddit is a platform that hosts a wide range of forums. While the vast majority of those forums are unproblematic, some elevate extremist ideologies including the Great Replacement theory. One user asked the 125,000 members of the “Ask the Donald” subreddit for their thoughts on demographic shifts. One replied it will mean “the death of my country, my culture, and my political hopes and dreams.” When another user pointed out that some immigrants have pro-American sentiments, they echoed a version of the conspiracy: “Sorry the only people imported are Muslims and poor Latinos who will automatically vote democrat.”
On the same subreddit, another user asked members what can be done about declining U.S. birth rates. Another replied, “if you accept low fertility numbers, you basically accept the eventual demise of western civilization” while also suggesting that immigration would mean “replac[ing] western society by importing massive numbers of people from Asia and Africa.”
In the days following the murders in Buffalo, members of the “Ask Trump Supporters” subreddit and the “Ask Conservatives” subreddit also discussed the Great Replacement. Several users suggested immigration is part of a Democrat plot to supplant the current electorate. In these discussions, users pointed to evidence of demographic changes in the country and insisted this must be an intentional strategy by the Democrats to take control. One user wrote, “IDK [I don’t know] what ‘the great replacement theory’ is but they have been importing minorities in mass numbers for quite a while now…So replacement is inevitable.” Another insists that this conspiracy is “self evidently true” and insists this plan “always premised on nonwhites being a sort of captive audience for Dems that would never vote for Republicans no matter how many insane ideas…were pushed on them.”
On various other subreddits, replacement theory is discussed sarcastically. One shared a racist meme with the caption “White genocide isn’t real” liked by over 2,500 users. On another subreddit, users discussed the Great Replacement in terms of M&M’s, with one writing, “all I know is that when a certain colour of M&M who once held the majority of power becomes a small enough minority in the bowl, it usually results in that colour being subjected to mass melting.”
Content moderation on Reddit occurs primarily at the community level (or subreddit) via rules that are created by those communities and enforced by moderators within those communities. That being said, in 2020 Reddit enacted a platform-wide policy prohibiting hate on the platform. The policy bans “communities and people that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability.”