In this article we explore the discursive mobilization of movement frames within networked publics—a form of unorganized digital activism through which movement organizations, activists, and citizens politicize ordinary conversations by engaging in adversarial meaning-making dynamics online. Leaning on large-scale semantic network analysis and content analysis, we investigate the mobilization of the frame of antifascism within the conversation that sparked on Twitter after the brutal shooting of a group of African citizens by an Italian neo-fascist militant in 2018. We pay particular attention to how the discursive mobilization of the frame of antifascism occurs immediately after the shooting and how it evolves particularly in connection with offline protests. Our results shed light on the fluid nature of discursive mobilization patterns which underpin both the identification with the antifascist tradition and attempts to delegitimize this instance of collective action.

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Author notes

* We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers at Mobilization who provided generous and valuable comments that were crucial to strengthen our argument and analysis. We also thank Maria Grasso at Mobilization for granting us a caring and understanding work environment in which we could revise our manuscript while handling the manifold challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. Professor Pavan would like to acknowledge the support from the project, I-Polhys—Investigating Polarization in Hybrid Media Systems, funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research within the PRIN 2017 framework (Research Projects of Relevant National Interest for the year 2017; project code: 20175HFEB3).