Thursday, December 15, 2016

The role of social media on the normalization of prejudice

Remember when I highlighted the work of Chris Crandall and colleagues, who showed a normative shift in expression of prejudice towards groups Trump had targeted? Let's add to the discussion and see what a team of researchers has found in the UK post-Brexit. In essence this group of researchers found that there was a link between social media exposure and hate crime incidents, including on-line verbal abuse (keep in mind that in the US we would not refer to on-line verbal abuse as hate crime per se). According to the authors and those who are reading and interpreting their findings, it appears that what has happened in the UK is that social media have led to a sort of normalization of prejudice, much like what we see here. Although the focus is on social media exposure, we need to recall that increasingly sites like Facebook and Twitter are where we get much of our news, we do find echo chambers form, and we do see that individuals on social media find outlets to express toxic views about race, ethnicity, gender, and so on that they might not have done via other modes of communication. That social media themselves can contribute to normative shifts that lead to antisocial interactions is something that should be of concern to us all.

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