This study examined the production of online hate, using online survey data of youth and young adults (N = 520) collected in December 2017.
The prevalence of hate material on the Internet has led to mounting concerns from scholars and policymakers alike. Although recent scholarship has explored predictors of exposure, perception, and participation in online hate, few studies have empirically examined the social factors that lead individuals to produce cyberhate. The current study drew on two commonly-cited criminological theories, the General Theory of Crime (GTC) and Social Structure-Social Learning Theory (SSSL), to understand social factors that contribute to producing cyberhate. In addition, the study considered whether a broader relationship exists between the production of online hate and support for President Trump, whose rhetoric has gained traction among far-right and alt-right communities that traffic in hate. Logistic regression results show limited support for GTC, since low self-control is not a significant correlate of producing cyberhate after other relevant variables are considered. There was more robust support for SSSL, since the production of cyberhate was associated with an individual’s social location, online associations, and differential reinforcement. Moreover, there was evidence that individuals who approved of President Trump’s job performance were more likely to produce online hate. (publisher abstract modified)