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Impact and dynamics of hate and counter speech online

Citizen-generated counter speech is a promising way to fight hate speech and promote peaceful, non-polarized discourse. However, there is a lack of large-scale longitudinal studies of its effectiveness for reducing hate speech.

To this end, we perform an exploratory analysis of the effectiveness of counter speech using several different macro- and micro-level measures to analyze 180,000 political conversations that took place on German Twitter over four years. We report on the dynamic interactions of hate and counter speech over time and provide insights into whether, as in ‘classic’ bullying situations, organized efforts are more effective than independent individuals in steering online discourse.

Taken together, our results build a multifaceted picture of the dynamics of hate and counter speech online. While we make no causal claims due to the complexity of discourse dynamics, our findings suggest that organized hate speech is associated with changes in public discourse and that counter speech—especially when organized—may help curb hateful rhetoric in online discourse.


Joshua Garland, Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi, Jean-Gabriel Young, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, Mirta Galesic, Impact and dynamics of hate and counter speech online, EPJ Data Science 11 (2022) 3

Mirta Galesic, faculty member at the Complexity Science Hub

Mirta Galesic

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