One form of online intervention is uttering counter speech, which is defined as “crowd-sourced response to extremism or hateful content” (Bartlett and Krasodomski- Jones, 2015: 5). Although there are many possible ways of countering (Brown, 2016), research on its effects is limited. The few existing findings suggest that while counter speech often may not persuade haters to change their attitudes (Delgado and Stefancic, 2014), it may still shape the discourse norms, opinions, and possibly prosocial behavior of bystanders marking the largest group of witnesses (Leader Maynard and Benesch, 2016; Schieb and Preuss, 2016). Moreover, counterarguing could alleviate the negative impact of hate speech on targets and may motivate targets to still enter into constructive discourse with out-group members (Delgado and Stefancic, 2014; Leets, 2002)
Factual counter speech is shown to contribute to a deliberative discus- sion atmosphere (e.g. mutual respect, openness for different views) increasing the willing- ness of others to partake, as opposed to humorous or sarcastic responses that mainly provide entertainment value (Ziegele and Jost, 2020).
The goal of this study was to investigate how Muslim minority members react to Islamophobic online hate speech and whether previously expressed online counter speech by majority or other minority members affects these processes. Taken together, results showed that the confrontation with Islamophobic online hate speech can motivate Muslim in-group bystanders to engage in online counter speech. The underlying mecha- nisms of this effect are perceived religious identity threat due to the online hate speech, which increases their personal responsibility to intervene as a result.
In more detail, when Muslims were con- fronted with Islamophobic online hate speech that has already been countered by another minority (or majority) member (compared to standalone hate speech), they did not feel more (or less) threatened in their religious identity and, in turn, less personally responsi- ble to intervene. Hence, we could not replicate the findings on group-based bystander intervention offline, that witnessing another in-group member intervene can enhance helping (Levine et al., 2002).
in an online experiment (N = 362), we varied the presence of Islamophobic online hate speech and counter speech by a (non-) Muslim. Results showed that Islamophobic online hate speech led to a perceived religious identity threat which, in turn, increased the personal responsibility to intervene and resulted in higher intentions to utter factual counter speech. In addition, counter speech by both majority and minority members directly reduced Muslims’ intentions to counterargue hatefully.
As a potentially traumatizing experience, hate speech may evoke anxiety and stress, lower self-esteem, and trigger depressive thoughts in those affected (Leets, 2002).
Glasp is a social web highlighter that people can highlight and organize quotes and thoughts from the web, and access other like-minded people’s learning.