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Analyzing racist discourse on Facebook

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Publicada em

Chaudhry, I., & Gruzd, A. (2019). Expressing and Challenging Racist Discourse on Facebook: How Social Media Weaken the “Spiral of Silence” Theory. Policy & Internet.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/poi3.197

Abstract
This article examines the discursive practices of Facebook users who use the platform to express
racist views. We analyzed 51,991 public comments posted to 119 news stories about race, racism, or
ethnicity on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Facebook page. We examined whether
users who hold racist viewpoints (the vocal minority) are less likely to express views that go against
the majority view for fear of social isolation. According to the “spiral of silence” theory, the vocal
minority would presumably fear this isolation effect. However, our analysis shows that on Facebook,
a predominantly nonanonymous and moderated platform, the vocal minority are comfortable
expressing unpopular views, questioning the explanatory power of this popular theory in the online
context. Based on automated analysis of 8,636 comments, we found 64 percent mentioned race or
ethnicity, and 18 percent exhibited some form of othering. A manual coding of 1,161 comments
showed that 18 percent exhibited some form of othering, and 25 percent countered the racist
discourse. In sum, while Facebook provides space to express racist discourse, users also turn to this
platform to counter the hateful narratives.

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Analyzing racist discourse on Facebook

  1. 1. Analyzing Racist Discourse on Facebook Irfan Chaudhry - MacEwan University Anatoliy Gruzd - Ryerson University @IrfanYEG @Gruzd Feb 2, 2019 San Francisco, USA
  2. 2. “ Canadians Are Ridiculously Nice!?
  3. 3. 84% of online adults in Canada use Facebook* To what extent do users express OR counter racist discourse on public Facebook pages? * Gruzd, Jacobson, Mai, & Dubois. (2018). The State of Social Media in Canada . Ryerson University Social Media Lab. DOI: 10.5683/SP/AL8Z6R
  4. 4. 1,208 • All news stories shared by CBC in one month 119 • News stories related to race, racism or ethnicity 51,991 • User comments Case Study
  5. 5. “ 5 Sample News Stories shared by CBC in 2016
  6. 6. Research Toolkit
  7. 7. Content AnalysisExpressions of Othering “Does not any country have a bomb big enough to just blow the whole Middle East to Crap. These people are natural born troublemakers…” Expressions of Countering “Wtf is wrong with our world that people think some people are less deserving of a normal life and decent opportunities because of their colour, country of origin or religion…”
  8. 8. comments Results 18% Expressions of Othering Expressions of Countering n =1,161 … despite the lack of anonymous comments & CBC’s active moderation
  9. 9. comments comments Results 18% Expressions of Othering 25% Expressions of Countering n =1,161 … despite the lack of anonymous comments & CBC’s active moderation Unpopular viewpoints regarding race are continually challenged by Facebook users
  10. 10. Analyzing Racist Discourse on Facebook Irfan Chaudhry - MacEwan University Anatoliy Gruzd - Ryerson University @IrfanYEG @Gruzd

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