Case Study: Alt-Social Media and the Bud Light Backlash

April 28, 2023
3 min

On 1 April 2023, Dylan Mulvaney, an open trans woman activist who became known globally for documenting her transition on TikTok, posted pictures on Instagram of commemorative cans sent to her by Bud Light that featured her image, and announced a contest in partnership with the company.1 In the days following the post, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) suffered a massive public backlash across mainstream and alt-social sites, including posts from musicians and politicians calling for boycotts and the removal of the beverage from personal and professional venues. The most extreme reactions were threats to employees and bomb threats targeting multiple breweries across the nation.2

As the direct result of the campaign against Dylan Mulvaney, the Bud Light brand has experienced a 17% drop in total sales, including a 6% drop in restaurant sales compared to the same time last year.3 While expected to be temporary, it is uncertain how long this trend will continue or how long the effects will last.

In addition to the serious financial implications of such malicious campaigns on alt-social media sites, threats of physical violence against Mulvaney were numerous. Largely unmoderated, these platforms host more damaging and harmful posts than mainstream social media. Entries in the case of Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney range from anti-trans and LGBTQ+ statements, political statements, conspiracy theories, through to support for violent attacks against Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Alt-social media played a significant role in the anti-woke backlash against Dylan and Bud Light. The majority of activity was on three sites, Gab, Minds and Truth Social.

Mentions of “Bud Light” across alt-social

“Bud Light” was mentioned 23,706 times in the past 6 months, most of which occurred in Aprilfollowing the Dylan Mulvaney announcement.

Gab is a micro-blogging social media known to be a safe haven for far right extremists. It was deplatformed by GoDaddy in 2018 after the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter was revealed to be highly active on there.4

Minds is an open source social media that values ‘free speech’ and allows users to earn crypto currency; it also has an unfettered Neo-Nazi and other extremist concern that has grown as main platforms remove these individuals and groups.5

Truth Social also advertises itself as a ‘free speech’ platform. Predominantly the sentiment of the content was negative, with hateful and offensive material observed.

This case study illustrates why it is so vital for companies to monitor both mainstream and alt-social media sites to ensure they are staying across threats. Indeed, if AB InBev had been monitoring alt-social sites, they would have had some warning as to what was to come. In February 2023 Dylan announced her Bud Light sponsorship on her Instagram page. The post itself received negative commentary on Instagram, but because there was no Twitter link or repost by Bud Light or AB InBev the commentary was limited. The post did however, get flagged on the notoriously dangerous anti-trans site, KiwiFarms, which deploy doxxing and swatting tactics against LGBTQ+ community members etc…

Pyrra’s goal is to make the internet and the world safer by identifying and tracking the users pushing dangerous narratives across the unmoderated corners of the internet where hate and

extremism fester. Visit to learn how we may be able to help you.

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