Hate Contagion: Measuring the spread and trajectory of hate on social media

16 February 2021


Online hate speech is a growing concern, with minorities and vulnerable groups increasingly targeted with extreme denigration and hostility. The drivers of hate speech expression on social media are unclear, however. This study explores how hate speech develops on a fringe social media platform popular with the far-right, Gab. We investigate whether users seek out this platform in order to express hate, or whether instead they develop these opinions over time through a mechanism of socialisation, as they interact with other users on the platform. We find a positive association between the time users spend on the platform and their hate speech expression. We show that while some users do arrive on these platforms with pre-existing hate stances, others develop these expressions as they get exposed to the hateful opinions of others. Our analysis reveals how hate speech develops online, the important role of the group environment in accelerating its development, and gives valuable insight to inform the development of counter measures.

Gallacher, John D., and Jonathan Bright. “Hate Contagion: Measuring the spread and trajectory of hate on social media.” PsyArXiv. 16 February 21. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/b9qhd

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