Islamophobia on Social Media: A Qualitative Analysis of the Facebook’s Walls of Hate
Facebook has become one of the fastest growing social media platforms. At the end of 2013, Facebook had 1,23bn monthly active users and 757 million daily users who log onto Facebook. Within this online space, there are also a growing number of online virtual communities, and hate groups who are using this space to share a violent, Islamophobic and racist narrative which attempts to create a hostile virtual environment. It is important to analyse these ‘new’ communities by monitoring the activities they conduct, because the material they post, potentially can have a damaging impact on community cohesion within society. Moreover, as a result of recent figures that show an increase in online anti-Muslim abuse, there is a pertinent need to address the issue about Islamophobia on social media. This research examined 100 different Facebook pages, posts and comments and found 494 instances of online hate speech directed against Muslim communities. The findings revealed some interesting parallels and common characteristics shared within these groups, which helped the author to create a typology of five characteristics of anti-Muslim hate espoused on Facebook. Overall, this study found Muslims being demonised and vilified online which had manifested through negative attitudes, discrimination, stereotypes, physical threats and online harassment which all had the potential to incite violence or prejudicial action because it disparages and intimidates a protected individual or group.
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