Presentation of master's thesis - Eli Marisa Øvergaard
Master candidate Eli Marisa Øvergaard will present her thesis:
Anti-social media: What are the discursive features of hate speech comments in news comment sections online? - Analyzing the nature of discourse in below-the-line comment sections on Facebook
The rise of digital platforms and social media has made more people use their free speech to
participate in the political debate. On the positive side, having a great diversity of views and
perspectives is good for both the society and democracy. However, one can clearly see that
the debates have become “tougher” and more polarized, and online hate speech has become a serious problem in today's digital society.
The background for this project has been a wish to gain a better understanding of hate speech senders by examining their comments with emphasis on language and discourse. This thesis examines with the discursive feature of hate speech comments in news comment sections on Facebook. The term "discourse" can be understood as a useful tool for understanding and describing the relationship between use of language and different reality perceptions. In other words, discourse can be defined as a particular way we express ourselves about reality.
The analysis has shown how the senders, through language, construct their own discourse. I
have decided to call this “the counter-discourse” as it mainly acts as a resistance against the
counter-hegemonic discourse. In the counter- discourse, the senders reality perception circles around the idea that the public discourse is based on lies and propaganda. Here the plot itself is organized around who the enemies are, who construct and manipulate the truth, and what kind of consequences it has for the society.
After having analyzed different Facebook comment sections, a common feature is that the
senders show an extremely hostile and one-sided attitude towards the public discourse and the society as a whole. In this way, they reject factual discussions and mutual understanding.