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Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime

66 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017  

Karsten Müller

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Carlo Schwarz

University of Warwick

Date Written: December 6, 2017

Abstract

This paper investigates the link between social media and hate crime using hand-collected data from Facebook and Twitter. We study the case of Germany, where the recently emerged right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has developed a major social media presence. Using a difference-in-differences design, we show that right-wing anti-refugee sentiment on Facebook predicts violent crimes against refugees in otherwise similar municipalities with higher social media usage. Consistent with social media being the driving force, the effect decreases with internet outages; increases with user network interactions; is not driven by the news cycle; and does not hold for posts unrelated to refugees. We find similar evidence for the United States, where President Trump's twitter activity strongly predicts hate crimes against the minorities targeted in his tweets, but not other minorities. We find no effect for the period before Trump's presidential campaign or measures of general anti-minority sentiment.

Keywords: Social Media, Hate Crime, Minorities, Germany, US, AfD, Trump

JEL Classification: D74, J15, Z10, D72, O35, N32, N34

Suggested Citation

Müller, Karsten and Schwarz, Carlo, Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime (December 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3082972 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3082972

Karsten Müller

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.karstenmueller.eu

Carlo Schwarz (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

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