Online Ideology: A Comparison of Website Communication and Media Use



This study examined and compared the websites of ideological groups from a communications and media use perspective. Thirty-six websites with message boards categorized as either violent ideological, nonviolent ideological, or nonviolent nonideological were content coded for several distinguishing characteristics. The results indicated that group type was predicted by the type of information presented, the difficulty of becoming a member, and the amount of freedom members had on discussion boards. These findings suggest that characteristics of violent ideological group websites can be used to distinguish them from websites of both nonviolent ideological and nonideological groups. This study also provides a demonstration of a research methodology that can be used to naturally observe ideological groups via an online setting.