Why is there hate speech content out there?


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Why this theme?

Those involved in the creation or promotion of hate speech often do so for a variety of reasons. This theme aims to explore the variety of reasons why hate speech is created and begins to consider how counter-narratives can be used to reduce the spread of hate speech content.

Research Evidence

Children and youth can be particularly vulnerable to online hate speech; the so called “Generation M” (M for media) “live” in the media, they do not just use the media, as older generations did. They want to be always online, connecting with each other via smartphones, laptops, tablets; they prefer the internet to libraries for their research. They use fast mobile broadband internet connections in order to be always online either as active or passive users (Okansen et al., 2018) and they are the earliest adopters of new technologies (Keipe et al., 2016).

The evolution of computer technology facilitates hate messages and other material to reach children and adolescents (Tynes, 2005). They may not recognise such phenomena and sometimes think of “hate speech” as normal, as the way online hate speech reaches youth and children is often disguised through video games or videos (Daniels, 2008), cartoons, or even as content in the online versions of teen magazines (Tynes 2005). Hawdon (2015) says that the more the adolescents use the internet, the more endangered are they to encounter or be victims of hate speech online.

Hate speech reaches not only the victims but also others who might share opinions or who may be lonely and seek for a life “purpose” (Daniels, 2008, Duffy, 2003), since internet use increases the feeling of collectivity. Anonymous, cheap and easy access makes the goal to express oneself too easy. 92 per cent of internet users believe that social network-moderated interaction allows people to express themselves more aggressively than in offline situations (Antoci et al, 2016).

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topics in this theme.

  • Where do you encounter hate speech online?
  • What emotions do you feel when you encounter this?
  • Do people intend to cause distress when they share hate speech content?

Outcome Criteria

  • Understand our own feelings around prejudices.
  • Develop strategies to evaluate people’s motives in propagating hate speech.