Horizons of Hate

A new report is out. The 2015-2016 study, Horizons of Hate: A Comparative Approach to Social Media Hate Speech, was carried out for the VOX-Pol Network of Excellence and funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme.  The study provided an innovative mixed-method research perspective to social media debates in Finland during the so-called refugee crisis in Europe. Since 2015 around 30,000 refugees arrived in Finland – a nearly ten-fold increase from previous years which led to a heated debate in the country about immigration and how refugees should be received.

Bridging ideas from conflict theory, social media analysis and digital ethnography, the study highlighted that the basic concepts of debate by users are not understood in mutually commensurable ways. Dr Pohjonen found that even the sources of information used to produce meaning about critical issues and debates are drifting apart, which has led to the more extreme framing of events and themes to the audiences who are already predisposed to react strongly to particular types of information.