SOCIAL MEDIA, HATE SPEECH AND CONFLICT: INTERPLAY OF INFLUENCES

Chinwe Elizabeth Uzochukwu (PhD), Ekene Godfrey Okafor

Abstract


Given the pronouncement of a new bill by the Nigerian senate to douse the increasing hate speech that results in conflict occasionally fuelled by the social media, this work aims at examining the interplay between hate speech, social media and conflict in the society. The design adopted in the study is the Critical Discourse Analyses (CDA). Fifty-three textual documents downloaded from the social media comprising speeches made by some Nigerian personalities were analyzed. Hinged on the spiral of silence theory, the study considers the effect of  hate speech on the formation of public opinion by some people especially those who form their opinions from the dominant view.  While the study found the existence of hate contents on the social media, the extant literature shows that measuring hate speech requires knowing the hate words or hate targets priori and that the description of hate speech tends to be wide, sometimes extending to embody words that are insulting of those in power or minority groups, or demeaning of individuals who are particularly visible in the society. As the study also revealed, while hate speech may be prone to manipulation at critical times such as during election campaigns, accusations of promoting hate speech may be traded among political opponents or used by those in power to curb opposition and criticism, suggesting the need for intermediaries to advance the fight against hate speech because of the tendency of negative opinion formation by those exposed to hate messages given that some efforts are motivated by the impulse to ban hate speech as it can provoke pain, distress, fear, embarrassment and isolation to individuals. 

Keywords


Social Media; Hate Speech; Conflict; Violence

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References


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