SOCIAL MEDIA’S INFLUENCE ON HATE CRIMES
The rise of the internet as well as that of technology may have brought about many positives for society particularly in terms of freedom of speech and communication. It has however also created a platform on which abusive and threatening opinions can be more easily voiced, in particular against certain individuals or groups of people, which is often referred to as hate speech.
Despite hate speech being restricted to the act of verbal abuse, some experts are worried by its tendency to develop into something much serious, falling under the bracket of hate crime. A hate crime is a criminal offence motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a victim’s race, ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation or disability.
This kind of crime may include robberies, threats, harassment, intimidation or actual acts of physical violence such as physical assault, sexual assault, rape, torture, attempted murder or murder. Hate crimes are unique as they have a social undertone in their aim.
They are intent on sending a message to entire groups or individuals, as well as to their families and other supporters, that they are unwelcome in particular communities. What sets hate crimes apart from other acts of violence is the psychological damage that they leave behind.
The internet and social media networks are not under any sort of inspection against racist ideas, hate or abusive speech in the name of freedom of surfing the web.
Hate speech does not only declare one’s hate or anger, but also sets a premise for hate crime.