Misogynist Hate Speech: Abuse on Social Media

Mr William Arpke-Wales1
1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

With the rising popularity and uptake of social networking services, a number of questions have arisen in relation to how to address the growing levels of hate, incitement and abuse on social media. Previous research in this field has suggested that abuse on social media is disproportionately directed towards women, or peoples presenting characteristics associated with traditional conceptions of femininity. Although gender is historically not included in conceptualisations of hate speech, in this presentation I will contend that there is benefit in classifying some forms of digital abuse as misogynist hate speech. Drawing on the emerging literature on the digital society which frames social media as a distinctly techno-social practice, and recent work on misogyny and misogynist hate speech, I will suggest that there are characteristics of digital abuse which make it better able to be conceived of a hate speech than other forms of misogynist speech. While the framework of hate speech is not without limitations, I will argue that framing this abuse as misogynist hate speech provides a conceptual tool for social media users and social media platforms to recognise and contest digital abuse.


William is a first year PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, whose current research interests include digital criminology, hate speech and misogyny. His previous work has focused on gender, family violence, and networked offending.


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