Identity and Status: When Counterspeech Increases Hate Speech Reporting and Why
Much has been written about how social media platforms enable the rise of networked activism. However, few studies have examined how these platforms’ low-information environments shape how social movement activists, their opponents, and social media platforms interact. Hate speech reporting is one understudied area where such interactions occur. This article fills this gap by examining to what extent and how the gender and popularity of counterspeech in comment sections influence social media users’ willingness to report hate speech on the #MeToo movement. Based on a survey experiment (n = 1250) conducted in South Korea, we find that YouTube users are more willing to report such sexist hate speech when the counterspeech is delivered by a female rather than a male user. However, when the female user’s counterspeech received many upvotes, this was perceived to signal her enhanced status and decreased the intention to report hate speech, particularly among male users. No parallel patterns were found regarding other attitudes toward hate speech, counterspeech, YouTube, the #MeToo movement, and gender discrimination and hate speech legislation. These findings inform that users report hate speech based on potentially harmful content as well as their complex social interactions with other users and the platform.
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