Commentary

2016 Brought Big Increase In Hate Speech On Social Media

Engagement around hate groups on social media has increased ten-fold in this country over the last two years, with the biggest increase coming last year, according to a new study from community security organization Safe Home, titled “Hate on Social Media: A Look at Hate Groups and Their Twitter Presence.”

The study, which analyzes data collected by the hate group watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center, found that the number of “likes” per tweet for Twitter accounts maintained by hate groups jumped from an average of 0.76 in 2014 to 2.46 in 2015 and 7.68 in 2016.

Breaking hate groups down into various categories, anti-immigrant groups saw the biggest increase in engagement in absolute terms, from an average 0.96 likes per post in 2014 to 23.63 in 2016.

Anti-LGBT groups also saw a notable increase over the same period, from 0.35 to 3.32, while anti-Muslim groups soared from 0.16 to 7.98.

The increase in engagement for anti-Muslim groups was the biggest in proportional terms, jumping 50-fold over two years, compared to a 25-fold increase for anti-immigrant groups and a ten-fold increase for anti-LGBT groups.

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Safe Home found that anti-Muslim groups were also the most prolific tweeters in 2016, with an average 25,807 tweets per group.

They were followed by anti-immigrant groups, with an average 13,292 tweets, anti-LGBT groups with 10,240 tweets, white supremacist groups with 4,754 tweets, anti-Semitic groups with 1,191 tweets, and black separatist groups with 1,111 tweets.

In terms of audience, anti-immigrant groups led the way, with an average 17,569 followers.

Anti-Muslim groups were next, with an average 14,680 Twitter followers, then “miscellaneous” hate groups with 7,534, anti-LGBT groups with 7,032, black separatists with 5,537, white supremacists with 3,056, and anti-Semitic with 1,524.

According to Safe Home, the biggest hate group on Twitter is the anti-immigrant Federation for Immigration Reform, with 72,690 followers, and an average of 50.29 likes per post.

Close behind is the anti-Muslim Bill Keller Ministries, with 65,823 followers but just 5.36 average likes per post, while ACT for America, another anti-Muslim group, has 58,566 followers and an average of 20.81 likes per post.

The white supremacist group VDARE also boasted high engagement, with 29.78 likes per post.

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