This cuts both ways, however. For, there is also evidence to suggest that the Internet disinhibits speakers to say things they would not otherwise say, face-to-face (Suler, 2004).
even perceived anonymity—can embolden people to be more outrageous, obnoxious, or hateful in what they say than would be the case in real life (Branscomb, 1995: 1642–1643; Citron, 2014: 57, 59–60; Coffey and Woolworth, 2004: 1–14; Cohen-Almagor, 2015: 86–87, 114, 146; Poland, 2016: 22–24).
On the other hand, the perceived anonymity of the Internet may also liberate victims of online hate speech, as well as their supporters or defenders, to engage in counter-speech.
But, then, of course, the anonymity might also encourage counter-speakers to engage in their own hate speech attacking the original hate speakers (Coffey and Woolworth, 2004).
What does seem clear is that there is an urgent need for existing research on the harmful effects of hate speech (Brown, 2015; Gelber and McNamara, 2016; Jay, 2009; Leets, 2002) to be extended or augmented to include research directly comparing the harmful effects of online and offline hate speech.
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