Journal of Media Studies, Vol 35, No 2 (2020)

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Individual-Level Factors and Variation in Exposure to Online Hate Material: A Cross-National Comparison of Four Asian Countries

Muhammad Awais, Farahat Ali, Asma Kanwal


Internet has become one of the key drivers of social evolution. It has also provided an array of help forming certain kinds of negative behaviors against deviant groups through hate material. South Asia has witnessed a significant raise in online hate activities in recent past. To explore the possible explanations behind this spike, a survey method is used to collect the data from young adults (19-28) from different universities of Pakistan (n=457), India (n=523), Bangladesh (n=426), and Sri Lanka (n=381). The study found the conceptual roots in Routine Activity to understand the nexus between possible offenders (hate groups) and potential victims (internet users). The results showed that there was a significant difference between the exposures to online hate material across four Asian countries. The study theorized three of the possible explanations to account for this variation that include the score of each country on Inglehart-Welzel's self- expression scale, anti-hate-speech laws, and literacy rate. The data partially fits in the explanation of the variation by literacy rate better than the other two. Moreover, men are more prone to exposure to online hate material as well as the people with more social networking sites use, frequent visit to dangerous websites, using internet as anonymous, and having more Facebook friends. The study recommends taking into account the individual factors while formulating anti-hate-speech laws in South Asia. Also, the study recommends conducting a similar cross-national consideration in particularly those countries where the militant groups are using online space to make people radicalized. 


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