Study: Increased Access to Internet May Spark Increase in Hate Crimes

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A new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and New York University purports that increased access to the Internet may have contributed to a rise in hate crimes.hatecrimesincyberspace_bookreview_splash650

From 2000 to 2011, there was a six-fold increase in the number of hate-related websites, according to Jason Chan, a professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and the lead author of the study. According to researchers, this increased dissemination of bigoted ideology may have fueled individuals to commit more racial hate crimes.

“If you were to take a look on the Internet, you would find that to this current date, there’s a lot of websites out there that provide hate-related ideologies,” Chan said in a video posted on YouTube.

The researchers cross-referenced large data sets gleaned from the FBI, the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The data very consistently show this positive relationship between the number of broadband providers and the number of hate crimes,” Chan said. “In one of our most conservative models we find that a one-unit increase in the number of broadband providers is thumb-hate-crime-and-incidents-831associated with a 21 percent increase in racial hate crimes…roughly about 900 racial hate crimes in the U.S. per year.”

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“We also found that this positive relationship between broadband providers and the number of hate crimes is mainly found in places that have high levels of racism,” he said. “The likely reason behind this is the internet facilitates this specialization of interest. That is to say users will search out content online that is congruent to their beliefs or preferences and are not as likely to look up content that is counter to what they believe in.”

“The Internet and Racial Hate Crime: Offline Spillovers from Online Access” was co-authored by New York University professors Anindya Ghose and Robert Seamans. It will be published in the upcoming issue of MIS Quarterly and can be accessed here.