The Effect of Extremist Violence on Hateful Speech Online

16 Apr 2018  ·  Alexandra Olteanu, Carlos Castillo, Jeremy Boy, Kush R. Varshney ·

User-generated content online is shaped by many factors, including endogenous elements such as platform affordances and norms, as well as exogenous elements, in particular significant events. These impact what users say, how they say it, and when they say it. In this paper, we focus on quantifying the impact of violent events on various types of hate speech, from offensive and derogatory to intimidation and explicit calls for violence. We anchor this study in a series of attacks involving Arabs and Muslims as perpetrators or victims, occurring in Western countries, that have been covered extensively by news media. These attacks have fueled intense policy debates around immigration in various fora, including online media, which have been marred by racist prejudice and hateful speech. The focus of our research is to model the effect of the attacks on the volume and type of hateful speech on two social media platforms, Twitter and Reddit. Among other findings, we observe that extremist violence tends to lead to an increase in online hate speech, particularly on messages directly advocating violence. Our research has implications for the way in which hate speech online is monitored and suggests ways in which it could be fought.

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Social and Information Networks Computers and Society


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