ESOC Working Paper #31 - Does Deplatforming Work? Unintended consequences of banning far-right content creators

Publication Year
ESOC Working Paper Series

Social media has become an outlet for extremists to fundraise and organize on, potentially
leading to deadly consequences. While governments deliberate on how to regulate this challenge,
some social media companies have removed creators of offensive content—deplatforming. I
estimate the effects of deplatforming on revenue and viewership, using variation in the timing of
removals across two video-streaming companies- YouTube, and its far-right competitor,
Bitchute. I construct a novel dataset including Bitcoin wallets linking YouTube and Bitchute
accounts for 79 far-right content creators, including propagandists for violent domestic extremist
movements. Being deplatformed on YouTube results in a 30% increase in weekly Bitcoin
revenue and a 50% increase in viewership on Bitchute. This increase in Bitchute activity
accounts for about 65% of the estimated foregone revenue and 5.9% of viewership lost from
YouTube, implying a negative net effect of deplatforming.



Publication Topic
Politics and Public Opinion
Political Development
Publication Type
ESOC Working Paper