Hate-sharing: A case study of its prevalence and impact on Gab

Weigel, M., & Gitomer, A. (2024). Hate-sharing: A case study of its prevalence and impact on Gab. New Media & Society

Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448241245349

Open access: Yes

Notes: Hate on social media is not only about harming the other—it is also about creating stronger bonds with those who think alike. In this paper, Weigel and Gitomer explore hate-sharing (the practice of sharing content to disagree with it) in Gab, the popular far-right social media platform. Drawing on network analysis and affect theory, the author brings forward a novel approach to grasp the sociability of antisocial behaviour on social media. The authors found that hate-sharing is a popular practice in Gab, often leading to stronger bonds in the network structure. The authors suggest that “these findings suggest that social networking sites shape polarization not only, and perhaps not even primarily, by filtering out dissonant perspectives, but rather by structuring sociability” (p. 17).

Abstract: This article brings frameworks from literary and cultural studies and methods from network science to bear on a central topic in political communication research: polarization. Recent studies have called into question the argument that digital “echo chambers” exacerbate polarization by preventing members from encountering a diversity of information and opinions. Using Gab, a far-right social media platform, as a case study, we offer further evidence that even members of highly polarized publics do engage in “cross-cutting.” However, we develop a distinct concept of hate-sharing, or sharing content for the purpose of disagreeing with or denigrating it. We show that hate-sharing is common on Gab. Moreover, it is associated with stronger community structure than other kinds of sharing and appears to confer substantially greater influence on those who engage in it. We interpret these findings as evidence that social networks incentivize the production of networked outrage—where “hating on” linked content merges with hate.

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