Explaining and combating online hatred and misinformation

A new research centre is looking at the impact of social media on the spread of misinformation and the rise of hate speech and incivility.

Professor Andrew Chadwick

The Online Civic Culture Centre is led by Professor Andrew Chadwick and features an academic team drawn from the disciplines of communication, information science, social psychology and sociology.

Through funded PhD research the centre will examine whether the features of social media that enable people to express themselves, exchange opinions, co-ordinate with others, and rapidly circulate and recirculate messages also encourage the dissemination of false information, incivility and hatred.

The first research projects focus on the cultivation of hatred online, incivility and emotions in policy discussions on social media (eg climate change), health care and housing, and correcting misinformation and disinformation on social media.

“Across the world we face fundamental questions about how the routine use of social media is reshaping the civic cultures of democracies", explains Professor Chadwick.

“Online civic culture refers to the social norms that people use when they interact with other people online. Are people civil, tolerant, not using personalised insults or remarks that discriminate against others based on their race, sexuality, or nationality? Do people tend to use misinformation and unsubstantiated rumours of the kind that undermine rational political debate? How can we encourage people to uphold positive civic values when they go online?"

“There is a profound need for evidence, analysis and creative ways of improving the health of our online civic culture. Our research will shape the next generation of scholarship and public knowledge in a crucial area – one that affects us all.”