"May I offend you?" An experimental study on perceived offensiveness in online violent communication and hate speech



Published 11-06-2018
Rebeca Bautista-Ortuño Francisco J. Castro-Toledo Juan O. Perea-García Nuria Rodríguez-Gómez


The aim of this study is to analyze the influence of attitudinal and sociodemographic variables on the perceived offensiveness of online communication and hate speech. We conducted an experimental study in which 373 participants rated their perception of offensiveness of four kinds of violent content (direct incitement to violence/threat, exaltation of violent responses, incitement to discrimination and expression of bad taste) with the appearance of posts in the Facebook social network. We manipulated the emitters (in-group man, in-group woman, and male foreigner). We did find that participants' attitudes towards issues related to the content in the violent messages had a significant effect in how they perceived said content. This kind of investigation becomes extremely relevant given the current legal discussion regarding the criminalization of online violent communication and hate speech.
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Hate speech, Offensiveness, Computer-mediated-communication, Sociodemographic, Attitudinal variable