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Hate speech on social media against German mayors: Extent of the phenomenon, reactions, and implications

  • Drawing on an online survey of mayors from the German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg this article analyses (1) to what extent social media is used abusively at the municipal level, (2) how mayors react to hate speech and (3) whether the experience of such insulting comments and threats is correlated with their perception of social media as a tool for political communication. The analysis shows that hateful comments are part of the social media experience on the local level. 53.9% of the mayors have at least once experienced personal insults and hostilities on social media in their role as politicians. The majority of them (56.7%) ignored the hate speech without reaction. Significantly fewer reacted more actively: 29.8% responded to the insulting message, 5.4% blocked the hater, and 8.2% filed a judicial complaint. The statistical analysis shows that mayors who use social media in a more professional way are more likely to react to hate speech in such an active manner. Moreover, the experience of hate speech and particularly an active type of reacting are found to be positively related to mayors' perceptions of how useful they consider social media to be for political communication.

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Author:Rafael Bauschke, Sebastian Jäckle
Parent Title (English):Policy & Internet (P&I)
Place of publication:Hoboken
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2023
Date of first Publication:2023/03/20
Release Date:2024/01/24
First Page:223
Last Page:242
Institutes:Fakultät 1: Management und Recht
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International