Mainstreaming the blackpill: understanding the incel community on TikTok

Anda Iulia Solea*, Lisa Sugiura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Incels (involuntary celibates), a subgroup of the so called ‘manosphere,’ have become an increasing security concern for policymakers, researchers, and practitioners following their association with several violent attacks. Once mostly contained on niche men’s forums, redpilled and blackpilled communities and theories are gaining prominence on mainstream social media platforms. However, whilst previous research considerably enhanced our understanding of the incel phenomenon and their presence on Reddit and secluded incel forums, incel’s presence on mainstream social media platforms is understudied and their presence on TikTok is yet to be addressed. The present paper examines the incel subculture on TikTok, through an analysis of incel accounts, videos and their respective comments, to understand the role mainstream social media platforms play in the ‘normiefication’ and normalisation of incel ideology and discourse. The findings suggest that on TikTok the expression of incel ideology takes a covert form, employing emotional appeals and pseudo-science to disseminate common incelosphere tropes. Further, we demonstrate how the process of mainstreaming incel beliefs is facilitated by their interconnectedness with wider sexism and structural misogyny. The harms generating from this association are conducive to the normalisation of blackpill beliefs and the reinforcement of misogyny, sexism and justification of rape culture.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
Early online date12 Aug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 12 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Incels
  • Mainstream media
  • Online harms
  • Online misogyny
  • TikTok

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