|Board member of||Center for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR)|
|Education||College of William & Mary|
Nova Southeastern University
|Discipline||Data science, cybersecurity, online extremism|
Megan Squire is a professor of computer science at Elon University. A researcher and Anti-Defamation League fellow with a focus on right-wing political extremism online, her work has been described as operating as an intermediary between non-profits like the Southern Poverty Law Center and militant groups on the far-left.
Education and early career
Squire grew up in a conservative Christian household near Virginia Beach, Virginia. She attended the College of William & Mary, where she earned a double major in art history and public policy. She took a secretarial job at an antivirus software company after becoming interested in computers. After receiving her PhD from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, she worked at a startup in North Carolina and then began teaching at Elon University.
Squire performed research in 2018 on anti-Muslim Facebook groups, using Facebook's Graph API to create a dataset of 700,000 members from 1,870 open and closed groups with ideologies including anti-Muslim, white nationalist, neo-Confederate, and more. The data was gathered over ten months. She found that membership in one such group correlated highly with the chance of being in another group, indicating that anti-Muslim sentiment acted as a "common denominator" for membership in related groups. Her research has been cited in lawsuits against Facebook for failing to remove such groups.
She has also explored how the younger generation of far right extremists, including Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, use video livestreaming and gaming platforms to earn money. A study in November 2020 showed that a handful of leaders of the global white nationalist movement are raising significant sums of money. As of November 2020, Squires' research indicated that Fuentes was earning about $326 per day off of DLive, or about $119,000 per year. "Most donations are small amounts of money, but some donors give very, very large amounts...Some users are giving $10,000 to $20,000 a month to streamers on Dlive." Her research using trace data from Venmo showed that the Proud Boys were taking dues despite claims to the contrary.
Squire first engaged in activism at age 15, when she joined her school environmental club to protest pollution at an industrial cattle farm. While teaching at Elon, she protested the war in Iraq. In 2008, Squire campaigned for the future US President Obama; however, following Obama's handling of the Great Recession, Squire became disillusioned with electoral politics and began engaging with the Occupy movement.
Amid a rise in fascist and neo-Nazi pamphleting of college campuses, Squire put together an interactive map of such events. By 14 November 2017, she had documented over 200 such occurrences.
At an anti-racism protest outside the Alamance County Courthouse in downtown Graham, Squire was assaulted by two members of a pro-Confederate monument group described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. Both assailants were arrested and charged, one charged for assault on a female and the other for disorderly conduct.
Honors and recognitions
In 2019, her presentation "Understanding Gray Networks Using Social Media Trace Data" was named runner-up for Best Paper at the International Conference on Social Informatics. In 2022, Squire was named a Belfer Fellow by the Anti-Defamation League for her work to "collect, analyze, and visualize quantitative data from social media platforms to understand the impact of various types and levels of deplatforming and demonetization on far-right individuals and groups." She is also a Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- "Megan Squire". Elon University. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
- Clark, Doug Bock (16 January 2018). "Meet Antifa's Secret Weapon Against Far-Right Extremists". Wired. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- Daro, Ishmael (4 August 2018). "Here's How Anti-Muslim Groups On Facebook Overlap With A Range Of Far-Right Extremism". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
- Hsu, Tiffany (9 October 2019). "2,200 Viewed Germany Shooting Before Twitch Removed Post". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
- Allyn, Bobby (8 April 2021). "'Stop Lying': Muslim Rights Group Sues Facebook Over Claims It Removes Hate Groups". NPR. Retrieved 18 Feb 2022.
- Gais, Hannah; Hayden, Michael (17 November 2020). "Extremists Are Cashing in on a Youth-Targeted Gaming Website". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 18 Feb 2022.
- Browning, Kellen; Lorenz, Taylor (8 January 2021). "Pro-Trump Mob Livestreamed Its Rampage, and Made Money Doing It". New York Times. Retrieved 18 Feb 2022.
- Carless, Will (5 February 2021). "Crowdfunding hate: How white supremacists and other extremists raise money from legions of online followers". USA Today. Retrieved 18 Feb 2022.
- Hayden, Michael Edison (19 November 2017). "It's OK to Be White: How Fox News Is Helping to Spread Neo-Nazi Propaganda". Newsweek.
- Brown, Maggie; Leah, Heather (21 June 2020). "Elon professor who researches right-wing extremist groups assaulted in Alamance County". WRAL.
- Duncan, Charles (22 June 2020). "Professor who studies hate groups attacked at Confederate statue protest, NC police say". The Modesto Bee.
- "ADL's Center for Technology and Society Announces Fourth Class of Belfer Fellows". Anti-Defamation League. 1 September 2021. Retrieved 18 Feb 2022.
- Karbal, Ian (8 January 2021). "The mob that stormed the Capitol was its own media". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 18 Feb 2022.