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Online Hate: Examining the Use of Outrage Language in Facebook Conversations over Racial Injustice

DOI: 10.15340/978-625-00-9894-3_14

Published: 2021 | Pages: 277 - 296

Bridget Haina
Digital Media Production, Communication Studies Department, School of Arts and Sciences, SUNY Plattsburgh, USA

Media is often expected to be a forum for open discussions about matters of public concern; new media, such as Facebook, are increasingly perceived as spaces for those conversations. However, social media has also come to be seen as a space of “muscular negativity” where the language of anger and outrage dominates. In a New York Times opinion article titled, “I am OK, you are pure evil,” Bruni (2017) writes, “For more and more Americans, the other side is not merely misguided in the extreme. It’s evil in the absolute…” Bruni argues that the language of anger, and its dissemination via social media, is now an industry and that “we are in a dangerous place as to how we view, treat, and talk about people with whom we disagree.” This chapter studies the nature of the outrage language used in race-related conversations on Facebook in regards to two U.S. events over systemic racism: the 2015 student protests that began at the University of Missouri and the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia rally and protests over the removal of Confederate Statues.

Platforms like Facebook have become places for open expression of extreme political ideologies. Research has shown that the very nature of the platform perpetuates the development and growth of insular feedback loops, or echo chambers. Outrage language perpetuates these “chambers” where only those with whom we concur are allowed to express opinions, and the rest are marginalized, insulted, or shouted down (Berry and Sobieraj 2014). This chapter will conclude that involvement with outrage media neither leads to an omnivorousness about all media (but, rather, media that thinks and speaks like us) nor to more democratic engagement (Rao and Haina, 2017). 

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Bridget Haina is an Assistant Professor in Digital Media Production in the Communication Studies Department at SUNY Plattsburgh where she teaches courses in digital media production, web design, interactive journalism, and video motion graphics, and where she focuses on instilling mindfulness, truth, and justice in the voices of the next generation of media creators. She holds an M.S. Degree in Multimedia Photography and Design from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she began her teaching career as a graphic design instructional associate. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art Photography and Photojournalism from the University of Albany where she began pursuing a career in digital media content creation. Her research focuses on studying online hate over issues of racial injustice, outrage language on social media platforms, and media literacy in public education.


Cite this chapter as:

Haina, B. (2021). Online Hate: Examining the Use of Outrage Language in Facebook Conversations over Racial Injustice In: Bakan U. & Lengel M. L. (eds) Social Media Archaeology from Theory to Practice (pp. 277-296). MacroWorld Pub.

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