Synthesis produced by the Fondation Descartes of the following research paper:
Soral, W., Liu, J., & Bilewicz, M. (2020). Media of Contempt: Social Media Consumption Predicts Normative Acceptance of Anti-Muslim Hate Speech and Islamoprejudice. International Journal of Conflict and Violence (IJCV), 14(1), 1-13.
Hate speech targeted towards specific social groups spreads profusely on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). 1 The goal of this study is to assess whether such hate speech influences the way Internet users perceive the groups that suffer from it.
To do so, the authors of the study considered the case of Poland, where hate speech particularly targets Muslim populations. In two surveys conducted in 2015 and 2016, the researchers asked a panel of Poles about their perception of Muslims and their use of social media.
The results show that among the population surveyed, those who use social media the most are, on average, the most tolerant of hate speech targeting Muslims. These individuals are also those who express the most negative prejudices towards Muslims.
The authors therefore argue that the results of their study support the hypothesis that hate speech on social media has an impact on the way targeted groups are perceived. The pervasiveness of these messages would contribute to the trivialization of negative prejudices against these groups, which would increase the acceptability of these prejudices.
However, the results of this study are yet to be confirmed. Indeed, while they show a correlation between potential exposure to online hate speech and the reinforcement of negative prejudices towards targeted social groups, they do not allow us to assert with certainty that there exists a causal link between these two phenomena. Longitudinal or experimental studies would be necessary to reach such a conclusion.