Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime
84 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017 Last revised: 5 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 3, 2019
This paper investigates the link between social media and hate crime. We show that anti-refugee sentiment on Facebook predicts crimes against refugees in otherwise similar municipalities with higher social media usage. To establish causality, we exploit exogenous variation in major Facebook and internet outages, which fully undo the correlation between social media and hate crime. We further find that the effect decreases with distracting news events; increases with user network interactions; and does not hold for posts unrelated to refugees. Our results suggest that social media can act as a propagation mechanism between online messages and violent crime.
Keywords: social media, hate crime, minorities, Germany, AfD
JEL Classification: D74, J15, Z10, D72, O35
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