Spread of Hate Speech in Online Social Media

Mathew, Binny; Dutt, Ritam; Goyal, Pawan; Mukherjee, Animesh

Hate speech is considered to be one of the major issues currently plaguing the online social media. With online hate speech culminating in gruesome scenarios like the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, anti-Muslim mob violence in Sri Lanka, and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, there is a dire need to understand the dynamics of user interaction that facilitate the spread of such hateful content. In this paper, we perform the first study that looks into the diffusion dynamics of the posts made by hateful and non-hateful users on Gab ( We collect a massive dataset of 341K users with 21M posts and investigate the diffusion of the posts generated by hateful and non-hateful users. We observe that the content generated by the hateful users tend to spread faster, farther and reach a much wider audience as compared to the content generated by normal users. We further analyze the hateful and non-hateful users on the basis of their account and network characteristics. An important finding is that the hateful users are far more densely connected among themselves. Overall, our study provides the first cross-sectional view of how hateful users diffuse hate content in online social media.