How social media users perceive different forms of online hate speech: A qualitative multi-method study

Schmid, U. K., Kümpel, A. S., & Rieger, D. (2022). How social media users perceive different forms of online hate speech: A qualitative multi-method study. New Media & Society.


Open access: Yes

Notes: This article explores how individual characteristics and contextual factors shape the perceptions of victims and perpetrators of hate speech. They focus on three elements: personal characteristics (gender, age), presentation form (video, text), and content-related characteristics (direct or indirect). Overall, this article highlights the importance of taking a contextual and nuanced approach to how social media users perceive violence.

Quote: “If social media users do not see hate speech, or do not identify it as such, then they obviously cannot intervene against it.” (p. 13)

Abstract: Although many social media users have reported encountering hate speech, differences in the perception between different users remain unclear. Using a qualitative multi-method approach, we investigated how personal characteristics, the presentation form, and content-related characteristics influence social media users’ perceptions of hate speech, which we differentiated as first-level (i.e. recognizing hate speech) and second-level perceptions (i.e. attitude toward it). To that end, we first observed 23 German-speaking social media users as they scrolled through a fictitious social media feed featuring hate speech. Next, we conducted remote self-confrontation interviews to discuss the content and semi-structured interviews involving interactive tasks. Although it became apparent that perceptions are highly individual, some overarching tendencies emerged. The results suggest that the perception of and indignation toward hate speech decreases as social media use increases. Moreover, direct and prosecutable hate speech is perceived as being particularly negative, especially in visual presentation form.

Join the ConversationLeave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *