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Who Are the Online Extremists Among Us? Sociodemographic Characteristics, Social Networking, and Online Experiences of Those Who Produce Online Hate Materials

NCJ Number
253171
Date Published
2018
Length
6 pages
Author(s)
Matthew Costello; James Hawdon
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
Since surprisingly little is known about the creators of online hate material, the current study sought to address this gap in knowledge, using a random sample of Americans, aged 15-36.
Abstract
Descriptive results indicate that nearly one-fifth of the sample reported producing online material that others would likely interpret as hateful or degrading. Logistic regression was used to understand more about these individuals. Results indicate that men were significantly more likely than women to produce online hate material. This fits with the broader pattern of men being more apt to engage in deviant and criminal behaviors, both online and offline. Other results show that the use of particular social networking sites, such as Reddit, Tumblr, and general messaging boards, was positively related to the dissemination of hate material online. Counter to expectations, the use of first-person shooter games actually decreased the likelihood of producing hate material online. This could suggest that violent videogames serve as outlet for aggression, and not a precursor. In addition, the study found that individuals who were close to an online community, or spend more time in areas populated by hate, were more inclined to produce hate material. Researchers expected that spending more time online would correlate with the production of hate, but this was not supported. In fact, spending more time online actually reduced the likelihood of doing so. This result could indicate that individuals who spend more time online are focused on a particular set of tasks, as opposed to using the Internet to disseminate hate. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Created: July 20, 2021