Encouraging User-Initiated Counter Speech for Governing Hate Speech on Social Media Platforms The Effectiveness of a Short Perspective-Taking Encouragement Through a Causal Chain of Dehumanization, Empathy and Threat Perceptions

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User-initiated counter speech is acknowledged as a promising solution for combatting hate speech on social media platforms and as superior to previous governance attempts. However, its effectiveness in reducing the prevalence of cyberhate increases with a larger number of counter speakers while the number of users who are willing to engage in counter speech when witnessing hate speech oftentimes is limited. Consequently, to enhance the potential of counter speech as a promising solution for tackling cyberhate, the present study aimed to develop a strategy that is effective in enhancing social media users’ counter speech intentions. Utilizing a quantitative experimental between-group design, it investigated and provided evidence for the effectiveness of a short perspective-taking encouragement and illustrated the underlying mechanism of effectiveness. More specifically, results demonstrated that encouraging social media users to visualize what people that are targeted by online hate speech may be thinking, feeling and experiencing effectively enhanced their intentions to counterargue against hate speech and that this was the case because being presented with such an encouragement decreased the extent to which these users denied human attributes to hate speech targets, thus enhancing their empathy with these victims, then facilitating the extent to which they perceived the hate speech as (potentially) harmful to these targets, ultimately prompting increased intentions to counterargue against it.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen