“Social media has exploded onto the front lines in the battle over hate speech, free speech and the sociopolitical war gripping the US.”(“How Can Social Media Firms Tackle Hate Speech?”). Hate speech is defined as abusive or threatening words that express prejudice against a certain group of people. It is a crime hidden under the false pretenses of the first amendment. The effect social media has on hate speech is devastating. Social media incites hate speech by fueling hate crime, encouraging discrimination, and increasing the social and political divide leading to unnecessary conflict.
Hate speech related to social media encourages the demonization of groups by reaching out to a wider audience. Jussie Smollett, an actor from the tv drama Empire, staged a hoax in which he hired a group of people to pose as trump supporters and brutally attack him. He then proceeded to post on social and broadcast media the widespread false narrative. He claimed he was ambushed outside a restaurant by two unidentified suspects because he is black and gay. These false claims can lead to greater issues such as racial tensions or riots. A news anchor on CNN, Van Jones, quotes “this is a Jackie Robinson against homophobia in the black community, an icon, a beloved icon” (“Van Jones Discusses Jussie Smollett Developments”). Jones fell for the alleged attack, comparing the accuser to a historical hero who broke racial barriers. By staging this hate crime he creates a stigma against people filing against hate crimes, endangering victims.
Hate speech advocated by social media apps and website content further promote discrimination within the people holding the belief. Opinions on the media are becoming more lethal as biased reports and opinionated comments have infiltrated platforms such as Twitter. David Duke, a white supremacist quotes “Jewish people have put the interests of race over the interests of the American people…. Jews are filled with more hatred and rage for our race, for our heritage, for our blood than perhaps you can imagine”(Duke, David.twitter.com/DrDavidDuke.). Duke has spread hate speech against all races that are not white on twitter and other media platforms. His biased, privileged nature poisons the mind of people who don’t bother to know the other side. Duke is one of the many elements that promote hate crime in today’s society. People like this stimulate racial tensions and discrimination.
Hate speech increases the social and political divide and shakes up the core of who we are as Americans. It creates tension and conflict between families and friends who have opposing political views. This type of platform divides us instead of uniting us for common good. Instead of all men are created equal, we are dividing people based on race, religion, color, and political beliefs by hate advocates. Louis Farrakhan stated, “The powerful jews are my enemy,” and “white folks are going down.” (Caralle, Katelyn, and Osorio. 28 Feb. 2018, www.washingtonexaminer.com/louis-farrakhan-jews-are-my-enemy-white-folks-are-going-down.) This is not the first time Louis has said such vulgar things. On if his memorable quotes is “The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man.” (Caralle, Katelyn, and Osorio. 28 Feb. 2018, www.washingtonexaminer.com/louis-farrakhan-jews-are-my-enemy-white-folks-are-going-down.) A powerful voice and platform such as his should be used to spread humanity and noble causes instead of spewing hatred. He dehumanizes Jews while putting Hitler on a pedestal naming him a great man when he orchestrated the mass murder of millions of people.
In conclusion, hate speech has a negative effect on our community and our minds. The first amendment protects freedom of speech meaning all speech is protected, including hate. False allegations driven by hate endangers victims of real hate attacks. Supremacists divide people based on their religion and race. Hate speech incidents on social media should be monitored and removed to protect weak minds from manipulative individuals.