Identity and Online Advocacy

Exploring The Negative Impacts of Online Hate Speech on The Identity of Black Community on Twitter.


The purpose of this paper is to briefly discuss about the negative impacts of hate speech that is being spread on Twitter towards the Black community. This paper will outline the different stages towards the construction of this hatred rhetoric and further discuss on how online hate has constructed the term Black Twitter and a certain kind of hashtags known as Black Tagging. The different negative effects on the self-esteem and social identities of the Black community that this online hate is propagating will also be explored.

Keywords: #HateSpeech, #BlackTwitter #Blacktags #Anonymity #BlackCommunity #SocialIdentities #OnlineIdentities

The rise of social media platforms has revolutionized how people interact with each other. The decentralization aspect of these platforms has made it ideal for individuals to be able to produce as well as exchange experiences, knowledge, issues and their different perspectives. However, in defiance of their democratic attributes, the involvement in reinforcing emerging kind of hatred online that they have, is receiving more scrutiny lately(Davidson, Warmsley, Macy & Weber, 2017). Since individuals are more interactive than it has ever been, they have established a distinct visual identity on the platforms that represents them and their foundation. This is considered to be beneficial as they establish a connection with their peers, families as well as information. However, when this aspect is threatened, a specific facet of their lives is endangered. The black community is getting targeted with hate speech online, mainly on Twitter, which is impacting their sense of self and is in turn contributing to individuals refusing the disclosure of that personality (Nakamura & Chow-White, 2012). As a result, this is significantly impacting their self-esteem, complicated by the fact since they are being confronted by hatred speech that they probably lack adequate handling capabilities. This essay will delve into the negative perceived effects that hate speech in creating on the self-esteem and social identity of black community using mainly Twitter as an approach. The essay will explore different aspects on the sources of hatred online and how it contributes to the creation of online hate speech with relation to the rise of ‘Black Twitter’ and the development of certain ‘hashtags’ and its negative impacts.

Twitter and Online Hate Speech Towards Black Community

As Twitter is continuing to resemble social and economic environments in different regions around the globe, emerging racial trends are becoming more common. This racial rhetoric emerge with deceptive techniques like using memes and dummy profiles so as to provoke hate and racism. Researches show concrete data that due to the phenomenon of anonymity, the sense of being anonymous has a significant impact on users’ behaviour. Individuals are relatively more violent in these cases where they believe they are unidentified. Therefore, these haters communities are more at ease sharing their hatred since they won’t be found out or face the repercussions. According to Burnap & Williams (2015), Twitter has been considered the networking site having the highest amount of hate speech towards the Black community due to the huge proportions of anonymous accounts. However, despite certain users having a lack of anonymity, there have been notable examples of hate speech through their real profiles and details on Twitter (Chaudhry, 2015). For example, Waseem and Hovy (2016) investigated a total of 130k tweets on Twitter out of which 16.8k were concluded to be hateful towards the Black community. With the expansion of this platform, structured racist groups are formed and Twitter is used as a medium to spread hate speech (Johns 2017). Apart from this, racial websites are created and users are redirected from Twitter to these websites attracting an increasing amount of participants, which therefore expands and reinforces a racist group identity and provoke abuse towards the Black community (Parenti 2013). Since digital sites are ideal for the personalization of texts according to a targeted audience, therefore Twitter allows these racial communities to be sufficiently characterized in the virtual world, through delivering effective methods to connect a larger number of participants and propagate vitriolic dialect. This promotes a feeling of belonging within themselves.

Researchers are putting much effort into identifying and recognizing the virtual hateful rhetoric, however, relatively limited is known concerning its proliferation on conventional or radical sites and the frequency of hatred changes when it comes to the field’s issues. Beauchamp (2018) identified that creators of sexist and abusive expression appear to approach in a smoother, rather implicit manner then progressing towards a pernicious manner. According to the authors, some of this is attributed to declining degree of interpersonal exclusion as these people move into a more severe virtual community. Through evaluating members who emit violent rhetoric to others who do not, Beauchamp (2018) identified abusive participants as being strongly interconnected to each other. In consequence, the abusive information produced by these individuals are spread quicker, further and to a broader demographic in comparison with participants not engaged in spreading hatred. Therefore, due to these movements, this has become the main reason as to why hate speech is being redirected more visibly on Twitter.

Black Tagging & Black Twitter Through Online Hate Speech on Twitter

Individuals are shifting to justifying media outlets as democrats become more fragmented. Therefore, this creates an escalating feeling of ethical detachment that contribute to denigration, although this tendency does not exactly reflect sufficiently for constructive interaction due to the varied perspectives and vocal expressions needed for a stable democratic state (Tillery, 2019). Some examples that can be considered are when Barack Obama was re-elected and when athlete Jason Collins made public that he was homosexual (Kian, 2015). Such occurrences provoked hate speech on Twitter about racial and gender identity. Within this context, the projection of hate speech on Twitter is perceived as a convoluted, societal issue, with different morphologies in various geopolitical contexts. With regards to hate speech composition, structures of toxic effects and violence are determined by how specific individuals are attacked (Wilson, 2011). As a result, hatred towards a community can evolve into various types of violence progressively or merge with antagonism for other identities. Participants tend to identify groups sharing the same views when they meet others whose ideologies challenge their self, setting in motion a structure of discrimination, whereby groups not formerly thought to be clearly distinguishable are now categorized as the “other” (Boyd, 2013). Therefore, as additional “others” are discovered, the challenge of identification grows, necessitating a restraint towards them.

According to studies, hate speech proliferation is predicted by systemic characteristics of Twitter that relate to the capabilities and restrictions of conceptual data (Mahendran, 2007). These viral political hashtags on Twitter depend upon various interactions that are considered to trigger a wider group of individuals across many segments of the platform. Therefore, to effectively comprehend this situation in this context, reverting towards recognition and corresponding those hashtags towards a specific community, i.e the Black community’s ethnic origins is problematic (Sharma, 2013). Through envisioning visible discrepancies in online communities regarding political hashtags, research on the trend of racial hashtag propagation continues (Wilson, 2011). As a result, a presumption concerning socially constructed racist consumer attitudes persists. These results aren’t strictly applicable to all sorts of hashtags. Still, they do call into question some superficial notion of Blacktags as a personification of Black people by them to this particular dividing behaviour through Black-tagging and Black Twitter (Sharma, 2013). Northrup (1989) explains it as a phobia prolonged yet pointless presence, but destructive “to the self as a physical threat.” For example, if a central sense of self is questioned by another individual, a challenge is established. A confrontational posture as evidence attacks their self-esteem and identity which as a consequence, leads to an advanced level of deterioration (Bromley 2011). Since this demonstrates the importance of social interactions and the proliferation of racist groupings, this discloses for what cause Blacktags are so widely spread; due to the fact that hatred tweets conveying political criticisms in a vitriolic form of commentary that is aligned with the Black community are curated and disseminated as viral contents (Foxman & Wolf, 2013). Hence, hate speech on Twitter has lead to a more de-territorialized ethnic community of Black users who fear becoming a divided community dominated by a range of geopolitical initiatives.  The online interpretation of Twitter produces the negative effects and interpretations of Blacktags.

Impact on Self-Esteem and Social Identities of Black Community

Although verbal abuse is among the causes contributing to communal violence, it has a significant impact on the intensification of emotions of collective hatred. According to Watanabe, Bouazizi & Ohtsuki (2018), this is especially accurate in the virtual environment, by which the privacy of internet interaction will lead to participants expressing increasingly harmful views than they would normally. Conflicts between groups are compounded as participants begin to feel that standard social norms should not adhere to them. In the same manner, hatred expression on these social sites creates a substantial barrier among the participants and the leaders, empowering respondents to self-interpret without fear of retaliation (Watanabe, Bouazizi & Ohtsuki, 2018). Izsak (2015) describes social identity as an individual’s sense of self to a community, as well as the sentimental significance that comes with it. Individuals have several intertwining identities connected with precisely established and important social classes along with vague definitions like ethnic origin. According to the social identity theory, connections to socially constructed identities are a critical indicator of how individuals identify and view themselves (Tillery, 2019). Therefore, when an individual associates with a community, their self-esteem is influenced by how they are viewed by the community. Hateful rhetoric on social media can trigger anxiety, especially among traditionally oppressed or vulnerable groups. According to other findings, such disclosure can cause individuals to remove themselves from a civic conversation, be it on the net or offline, hurting freedom of expression and community involvement (Chan, Ghose & Seamans 2015). Evidently, qualitative data suggest that vulnerability of racism has almost identical effects as being the victim of hateful talks, such as mental distress and community terror (Watanabe, Bouazizi & Ohtsuki, 2018). Humanitarian activists have concluded that failing to track and fight hateful rhetoric digitally will intensify marginalized victims’ subjugation, rendering them more susceptible to exploitation, thus rendering the bigotry communities more responsive to this kind of hostility (Burnap & Williams, 2015).

Demeaning words or actions may have serious consequences for participants of these directed communities. Although this association is not inherently definitive, the already targeted individuals to the harmful rhetoric tend to have a lower commitment to their families and show greater concentrations of dissatisfaction (Chetty & Alathur 2018). Internet susceptibility to offensive rhetoric is often linked to a long-term lack of constitutional discussion. Harmful rhetoric on the internet has engendered inter-group divisions in a number of ways, contributing to offline incidents and fracturing social stability in some cases (Izsak 2015). For example in the US, the tragic events of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd demonstrated the mistreatment that the Black community encounters. These atrocities revealed the concerns that the Black community endure due to online discrimination that contribute to offline homicides (Cappelli, 2020). Hatred will weaken the meaningful facets of the self that are extracted from group identity, robbing participants of their integrity, by violating the effective attributes of belonging to a social circle. According to studies, becoming a target of the hatred speech on the internet will trigger the target’s fundamental identification of becoming associated with insecurities; rather than associating oneself with admirable qualities, the victimized individual of hatred will associate with their group with threatened feelings (Müller & Schwarz, 2020). This makes them doubt their own values as representatives of virtual communities and societies.

Nevertheless, certain evidence suggests that representatives of communities whose personal identity are often threatened through hatred and shame are less prone to developing concern to the haters while others actually dismiss it (Watanabe, Bouazizi & Ohtsuki, 2018). Gerstenfeld (2017) discovered that certain persons who are despised are better at attributing hatred than those who are rarely threatened. Any participants of victimized communities, for example, are said to embrace marginalization throughout time. The sense of self arises from “reflected appraisals,” in which individuals of marginalized communities are mindful of their victimization and integrate derogatory views within their consciousness (Root, 2018). Furthermore, even though individuals of vilified communities are ignorant of their victimization, they may behave in compliance with subconscious biases depending on how they are viewed by outside discrimination, rather than their own flaws, nullifying the impact of hatred.


To conclude, this paper has explored the way hate speech on Twitter has negatively impacted the self and social identities of the Black community. This paper has briefly discussed about the origin of online hatred, how online hate on Twitter has given rise to terms like Black Twitter and Black Tagging and the different stages that help construct this hatred rhetoric. Further research includes the exploration of how hate speech towards a specific community can be detected online and automatically removed as a way to safeguard the Black community against racial proliferation on social networking sites

Reference List

Beauchamp, N., Panaitiu, I., & Piston, S. (2018). Trajectories of hate: Mapping individual racism and misogyny on Twitter. Unpublished working paper.

Boyd, D. (2013). White flight in networked publics. How race and class shaped American teen engagement with MySpace and Facebook. In L. Nakamura & PA Chow-White (Eds.), Race after the internet, 203-222.

Bromley, R. (2011). Beast, vermin, insect—Hate media and the construction of the enemy: The case of Rwanda, 1990—1994. In Billias, N., Praeg, L. (Eds.), Creating destruction: Constructing images of violence and genocide (pp. 40–59). Brill/Rodopi.

Burnap, P., & Williams, M. L. (2015). Cyber hate speech on twitter: An application of machine classification and statistical modeling for policy and decision making. Policy & internet, 7(2), 223-242

Cappelli, M. L. (2020). Black Lives Matter: The Emotional and Racial Dynamics of the George Floyd Protest Graffiti. Advances in Applied Sociology, 9(10), 323.

Chan, J., Ghose, A., & Seamans, R. (2015). The Internet and racial hate crime: Offline spillovers from online access. MIS Quarterly, 14(2), 381–403

Chaudhry, I. (2015). # Hashtagging hate: Using Twitter to track racism online. First Monday.

Chetty, N., & Alathur, S. (2018). Hate speech review in the context of online social networks. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 40, 108–118

Davidson, T., Warmsley, D., Macy, M., & Weber, I. (2017). Automated hate speech detection and the problem of offensive language. In Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 11(1).

Foxman, A. H., & Wolf, C. (2013). Viral hate: Containing its spread on the Internet. Macmillan.

Gerstenfeld, P. B. (2017). Hate Crimes: Causes, Controls, and Controversies. London: Sage.

Izsak, R. (2015). Hate speech and incitement to hatred against minorities in the media. UN Humans Rights Council.

Johns, A. (2017). “Flagging White Nationalism ‘After Cronulla’: From the Beach to the Net.” Journal of Intercultural Studies 38 (3): 349–64.

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Müller, K., & Schwarz, C. (2020). From hashtag to hate crime: Twitter and anti-minority sentiment. Available at SSRN 3149103.

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Northrup, T. A. (1989). The dynamic of identity in personal and social conflict. In Kriesberg, L., Northrup, T. A., Thorson, S. J. (Eds.), Intractable conflicts and their transformation (pp. 55–82). Syracuse University Press.

Parenti, M. (2013). Extreme right organizations and online politics: A comparative analysis of five Western democracies. In P. Nixon, R. Rawal, & D. Mercea (Eds.), Politics and the Internet in Comparative Context (pp. 155–173). London: Routledge.

Root, E. (2018). Staging scenes of co-cultural communication: Acting out aspects of marginalized and dominant identities. Communication Teacher, 32(1), 13-18.

Sharma, S. (2013). Black Twitter? Racial hashtags, networks and contagion. New formations, 78(78), 46-64.

Tillery, A. B. (2019). Tweeting racial representation: how the congressional Black Caucus used Twitter in the 113th congress. Politics, Groups, and Identities.

Waseem, Z., & Hovy, D. (2016, June). Hateful symbols or hateful people? predictive features for hate speech detection on twitter. In Proceedings of the NAACL student research workshop (pp. 88-93).

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30 thoughts on “Exploring The Negative Impacts of Online Hate Speech on The Identity of Black Community on Twitter.

  1. Hello Noodhish,
    I really enjoyed reading your paper it was really interesting. For my paper I have focused mainly on the positive impact of hashtag activism and by reading your paper I have learned about hashtags negative impact on the black community and your paper was really enriching and well detailed and structured.
    Do you think social media platforms could help to censor hate speech?

    1. Hello Rhabiya,
      I hope you are doing fine. Thank you for your feedback.
      I really think these platforms should find a way to censor hate speech. While Twitter has updated its terms and conditions, has enabled individuals to report fake accounts or inappropriate posts, a solution on how fake accounts and hate speech can be detected and censored has still not be found.

  2. Dear Noodhish,

    I’ve found your paper very interesting and you’ve took the initiative to talk about these important topics very clearly. Bu reading your paper, I was able to have a good understanding of the black community. Let’s hope that in the future, people will be more conscious about the discrimination existing in the black community and will take measures to reduce it. Your paper also made me learn a lot new terms I did not know. Overall, Good work! Keep it up!

    1. Hi Nandini,
      Thank you for the support and I’m glad that you enjoyed my paper.

  3. Your writing style truly amaze me. It is so clear, enriching and interesting to read. The article presents major findings and interesting research. I have learnt a lot of new terms about the black community; the ‘black tagging’ for example. It shows a lot about the dilemma the black community face in their everyday life. Like stated social media is the most used platform to spread hate about the black community. However, this breach is not taken seriously by the concerning authorities and even if done so, it is not something that can be eradicated completely. Overall, it was a very nice article and I hope to read more of your articles soon. Wishing you all the best 🙂

    1. Hi Eajaaz,
      I am happy that you found my paper interesting and that you learnt new things through what I have written. Indeed, there are many gaps that should be taken into consideration and I hope it gets better with the help of social media.
      Thank you for the support!

  4. Hi Noodish,

    Well done on writing about a really important social issue.

    It is truly repulsive that around 12% of Tweets were found to be hateful towards the black community. I see this study was a few years ago now, what impact do you think social movements like #BLM has had since then on not only social media platforms silencing hate speech but also anonymous accounts posting it? Do you think online platforms have a responsibility to censor hate speech within their communities?

    Thanks, Kristy

  5. Hey Noodhish!

    I’ve just read your paper and i’m amazed of how you clearly explained about the hate towards black community. You have choosen an influencial and high-powered topic. Honestly speaking, I was not aware of such issue on such platform. it’s a cogent argument. You structured your report well with an abstract, an attempt to analyse the issue, an argument and a conclusion. However i would like to know about the solution to these issues. What do you think should be done in order to clear up these issues?

    1. Hello Akshika,
      Thank you for your comment. I think anti-racism education must be promoted, and the majority of people must be educated and made understood that these minorities deserve the same level of respect as everyone else. Just because of their skin colour they should not be deprived of their rights and face all these hates as these have serious negative effects on them.

  6. Hello Noodish,
    Your paper was very Nice and interesting. I’ve learnt new things about the black community. Keep writing about these important topics,
    It is very interesting to read.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Yash,
      I am glad that you have enjoyed reading my paper and now you are more aware of things that are not usually talked about.

      Thank you for the support!

  7. Hello Noodish !

    You have tackled a powerful topic and it is intriguing as well. I was not aware of this particular issue on such platform before reading your paper and it is great to see that you have shed light on this topic by outlining the different stages towards the construction of this hatred rhetoric and how online hate has lead to the setting up of the different terms such as “Black Twitter”.

    I agree with your arguments. In fact, Twitter’s main aim is to give everyone the same power to create, share ideas and informations, and to express their opinions and beliefs without barriers. Free expression is a human right, we all believe that everyone has a voice and most importantly the right to use it. However, by reading your paper, it can be noted that some individuals are still taking this opportunity for granted by portraying poor behaviours and such acts have detrimental effects on the victims.

    Furthermore, you mentioned that “connections to socially constructed identities are a critical indicator of how individuals identify and view themselves, therefore, when an individual associates with a community, their self-esteem is influenced by how they are viewed by the community”. Do you mean that those individuals are influenced and are not performing their authentic self in relation to their community?

    Thank you for this paper, very informative one ! Looking forward to your reply.

    You can check out this article by Matamoros-Fernandez and Farkas (2021) which is titled “Racism, Hate Speech, and Social Media: A Systematic Review and Critique”

    1. Hello Yovan,
      I hope you are doing good. thank you for your feedback and I’m glad that you liked my paper.
      I think when individuals associate themselves, they tend to adopt behaviours from other individuals in order to look cool among them. In this process, they may not be performing their authentic self but rather one that they want to portray that they fit in.

  8. Hi

    Your paper was very interesting and enriching as I’ve learned new terms concerning the black community. Let’s cross fingers and hope that people will be more aware of the black community and help to reduce racial discrimination. Overall great report.

  9. Hello Noodhish!

    Your was very clear and on-point when describing how the internet could hurt the Black community.
    I do believe that since we are consuming centralised platforms, i.e; Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, we will not be tackle the issue, due to an outnumbered fake profiles being created to target the Black community. However, you could have mentioned how Twitter is narrowing the road to creating fake profiles, politicians tackling racism and hate issues from a national/International level.
    Do you think social media platforms such as Twitter could stop societal/racism clash?

    1. Hello Avneesh,
      thank you for your feedback. I will definitely keep this in mind next time.
      I think that with activities and movements that have started online against racist as a way to “fight” it can be of some use. However, this can be contradicted too, since in my opinion these movements only enlighten individuals about how others are affected by racism. I don’t believe it is effective in combating racism, because maybe as these movements continue to expand, there is more and more racism getting exposed online.

  10. Hi Noodhish,
    I’m impressed by your writing style. You stayed on point and answered your title while also being as much informative as possible. Your paper clearly demonstrates the undisclosed hate that the black community is going through and makes me wonder how this hate can hop onto from one community to another. While anonymity, privacy, and confidentiality are argued to be freedom of expression, some take advantage of it, and segregating mal intentions can be a tough job. It is also very important to understand on which criteria hate speeches are categorized. As a conclusive note, your paper was very informative and follows proper academic though there is room for improvement.

    1. Hi Sharma,
      Well thank you for going through my paper and that you found it interesting.
      Again thank you for the constructive comment, I will use it for my next paper.

  11. Hi Noodish! I’m impressed with your ability to write concisely. You didn’t only talk about the topic but also answered questions that went beyond the prompt. It well deserves recognition. The entire essay is focused exclusively on the arguments. Not even once have you went out of the scope of the essay, considering the nature of the issue. As noted throughout, there’s still room for improvements like giving more solutions on how to tackle the problem and reverse the situation. Overall, it’s clear that you understand each of the points raised and present an interesting approach.

    1. Hi Soma,
      Thank you for your constructive feedback, will definitely put it in practice in my next papers.

  12. Hey Noodish ! Great piece of work! I’ve come across terms which i did not know their real definition and impact like ‘black tagging’! I think that this topic is primordial and people show talk more about this matter in order to erase discrimination across the world !

    1. Hello noodhish.
      I did not know about the black community that much and that twitter had highest speech towards the black community. Blacktags and hate speech impact on the self presnetation of the black community..Very nicely ellaborated and discussed. From this,people will be more aware of the black community and help to reduce racial discrimination.

  13. Hi, Noodhish!
    Your paper is very enriching as I’ve learned new terms concerning the black community. Your paper is well written and it was nice to read about this issue. Do you think in some years, social media platforms will be a safe place for the minorities?
    I hope to hear from you😀
    You did a good job 👍

    1. Hello Jensee,
      thank you for your feedback. I’m glad you could learn about these new terms.
      To be honest with you, it is very hard to say because of some contradictions on these websites. For example many accounts get banned due to racist comments etc, while others, such as Donald Trump account, and all of his racist tweets never really got removed.

      However, recent movements that have been started online have enabled users to expose and sort of “fight” against hate speech online.

  14. Hi,

    I really enjoyed the paper, the language was very nice especially the low self-esteem part. I myself relate to such things but it would have been nice to visit the psychological aspect of these people who are target of hatred online. The behaviour change, the adaptability etc

    1. Hello Faneesh,
      thank you for your feedback. I’m very glad that you found my paper to be interesting. I will keep these things in mind and use them next time.

  15. Hi Noodhish! Your paper was a really interesting one! I did not know about the term ‘Black Tagging’ and the negative impact of hashtags on the Black community. All the research that I have done on hashtag activism mainly depicted its effectiveness but your paper shed some light on the its negative side. I was interested to learn about how Black people are targeted by hate speech and the role of Twitter in treating them as the ‘Other’ by categorising them into their own ‘Black Twitter.’ I will make sure to read more about this topic as it is a very interesting one. Do you think that social media platforms are really effective in safeguarding the Black community by automatically removing these hate speech online or could they find a better way to make these online platforms safer for these minorities? Do you think that there should be more rigid regulations that could be even more effective?
    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    1. Hello Norine!
      Thank you for your feedback on my paper, I’m glad you liked it.
      Concerning your question, to be honest with you, it is still unknown if social media will be effective in the coming years. Although there have been studies and analysis of hate speech online, no concrete solutions have yet been put forth. I really do think that these social media platforms should establish a way to be able to detect as well as censor hate speech on these platforms.
      Twitter has come up with some strict rules and regulations about fake accounts which can get banned but unfortunately, it is hard to actually detect these accounts.
      Therefore, i really think that this will continue to be an issue until they do not come up with a solid solution.

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