Migrating Counterpublics: German Far-Right Online Groups on Russian Social Media
Due to censorship and deplatforming policies on big social media platforms, far-right users have been forced to migrate to other online platforms that provide them with safer spaces for communication. One of these platforms is the Russian social networking site VK. This research investigates the German political environment on VK, which predominantly comprises online groups supporting far-right views. The analysis of users’ activity in the online groups showed that VK functions as an alternative platform and is not used for outward-oriented goals. Looking at the activities on VK in terms of the theory of sustainability practices, we claim that one of the most critical functions of VK is archiving content. This practice ensures the preservation of accumulated narratives in the case of complete deplatforming on a mainstream platform. We found that people who use VK for communication form two different thematic clusters: The first focuses on German domestic issues, and the second focuses on transnational conspiracy theories.