Chinwe Elizabeth Uzochukwu (PhD), Ekene Godfrey Okafor


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. 


Social Media; Hate Speech; Conflict; Violence

Full Text:



Adesina, O. (2018). Please Release: others speak on hate speech. March 25, 2018 Press Release. Premium times. Available @ (Accessed on 07/06/2018)

Alakali, Terfa T.; Faga, Hemen Philip & Mbursa, Jinatu (2016). Audience Perception of Hate Speech and Foul Language in the Social Media in Nigeria: Implications for Morality and Law. Academicus - International Scientific Journal, pp. 161 to 178. Available online @ (Accessed on 01/08/2018)

Ali, Anthony Danladi. (2013). Media Role and the Hurdle of a Nigerian Journalist 1984-1999. Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, vol.2, No. 9, pp.1-13.

Awan, I. (2013) Victims of Anti-Muslims Hate. Available at content/uploads/2013/09/appg.pdf (Accessed on 06/06/2018)

Ayitogo, Nasir (August 17, 2017) Hate speech will no longer be tolerated in Nigeria – Osinbajo

Premium times. Available @ (Accessed on 07/06/2018)

Brinks, D.O. (2001). Freedom of Expression and Hate Speech. Millian Principles, Legal Theory. Vol. 24.

Citron, K. D. & Norton, H. (2011). Intermediaries and Hate Speech: Fostering Digital Citizenship for Our Information Age. Boston University Law Review, Vol. 91.

Cornwell Nancy C. & Orbe Mark P. (1999). Critical Perspectives on Hate Speech: Explicating the Centrality of ‘Dialogic Listening’ in Attempts for Meaningful Dialogue. International Journal of Listening. 13, pp.75-96.

Council of Europe (1997) Recommendation (97)20 of the Council of Europe, Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

Dalhberg, L. (2001). The Internet and Democratic Discourse: Exploring the Prospects of Online Deliberative Forums Extending the Public Sphere. Information, Communication & Society Journal, vol.4:4.

Downs, D.M. & Cowan, G. (2012). Predicting the Importance of Freedom of Speech and the Perceived Harm of Hate Speech, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 42, No.6.

Gagliardone, I., Gal, D., Aleves, T., and Martinez G. (2015) Countering Online Hate Speech. Available at (Accessed on 28/06/18)

Hampton, K., Rainie, L; Lu,W.; Dwver M; Shin I & Purcell K. (2014) Social media and the ‘spiral of silence’. Pew Research Centre. Available at http://www.pewinternet.Org /files /2014 /08/PI Social-networks-and-debate_082614. Pdf

Jurgenson, N. (2011) Digital Dualism and the Fallacy of Web Objectivity. Available at: web-objectivity/

Kayambazinthu, E. & Moyo, F. (2002). Hate Speech in the New Malawi. in H. Englund (ed.). A Democracy of Chameleons: Politics and Culture in the New Malawi. Stockholm: Elanders Gotab.

Keats Citron, D. & Norton, H. (2011) “Intermediaries and hate speech: Fostering digital citizenship for our information age”, in Boston University Law Review, Vol. 91: 1435.

King, R.D. & Sutton G. M. (2013) “High Times for Hate Crime: Explaining the Temporal Clustering of Hate Motivated Offending”, Criminology 51(4):871-894

Kwok, I., & Wang, Y. (2013). Locate the hate: Detecting tweets against blacks. In Proc. of AAAI.

Leandro Silva; Mainack Mondal; Denzil Correa; Fabr´ıcio Benevenuto & Ingmar Weber (2016). Analyzing the Targets of Hate in Online Social Media. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (

Leets, L. (2002). Experiencing Hate Speech: Perceptions and Responses to Anti-Semitism and Antigay Speech. Journal of Social Issues. Vol. 58, No. 2, pp.341-361.

Neisser, E. (1994). Hate Speech in the New South Africa: Constitutional Consideration for a Land Recovering from Decades of Rational Repression and Violence. South African Journal of Human Rights 10. Pp.333-356.

Nemes, I. (2002). Regulating Hate Speech in Cyberspace: Issues of Desirability and Efficacy. Information & Communications Technology Law. Vol. 11,No.3.

Noelle-Neumann, E. (1974). “The Spiral of Silence - A Theory of Public Opinion.” Journal of Communication 24(2): 43-51

Olowojolu, Olakunle. (2016) Role of Media in 2015 Presidential Election in Nigeria. International Journal of Politics and Good Governance. Vol. VII, No.7, 2016, pp.1-12.

Olga, Jubany & Malin Roiha (2016) Backgrounds, Experiences and Responses to Online Hate Speech: A Comparative Cross-Country Analysis. Available @ http://www. Hate_Speech_A_Comparative_Cross-Country_Analysis.pdf.(Accessed on 25/06/2018)

Osibanjo (2017). We’ll treat hate speech as terrorism, Osinbajo warns. Available @ (Accessed on 25/06/18)

Parekh, B. (2006). Hate Speech: Is There a Case for Banning? Public Policy Research.

Post, R., Hare, I. & Weinstein, J. (2009). Hate Speech. in Extreme Speech and Democracy. Oxford University Press.

Rainie, L & Smith, A (2012) Social networking sites and politics. Pew Research Center: Pew Internet and American Life Project. Available at media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_SNS_and_politics.pdf

Salem, Fadi & Mourtada, Racha (2011). Civil Movements : the impact of facebook and Twitter. Retrieved 17 April 2018.

Spiegel, L. (1999). Hate Speech, Civil Rights and the Internet: The Jurisdictional and Human Rights Nightmare. Albany Law Journal of Science & Technology.

Taylor, Jherez; Peignon, Melvyn & Chen, Yi-Shin (2018) Surfacing contextual hate speech words within social media. Available @ (Accessed on 25/06/2018)

UNESCO (2015) Countering online hate speech. Unesco series on internet freedom. Available @ (Accessed on 25/06/2018)

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2013) “General recommendation on combating racist hate speech”, CERD/C/GC/35.

Waldron, J. (2012) The Harm in Hate Speech. Harvard University Press.

Witschge,.C. (2008). Examining Online Public Discourse in Context: A Mixed Method Approach. Javahost- the Public, Vol.15, No. 2.

Zeerak Waseem & Dirk Hovy (2016). Hateful Symbols or Hateful People? Predictive Features for Hate Speech Detection on Twitter. Proceedings of the NAACL Student Research Workshop (2016), 88–93.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN (Print): 2276-8645


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.