Online Hate Speech Rises With Climate Getting Warmer, Surprising Study Finds

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Psychology News

Researchers at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) revealed how global heating fuels online hate speech. The study is published in two journals, The Lancet Planetary Health and Environmental Research Letters.

The Study

In order to understand the temperature impacts on hate speech online, the researchers surveyed 4 billion tweets posted on Twitter, in the US, between the years 2014–2020. They used a machine-learning approach to identify the tweets that comprised English-phrased hate words or displayed aggressive online behavior.

The Findings

The results revealed that hate speech on social media is greatly influenced by temperature and weather conditions. In fact, extreme weather fuels online hate speech.

It was found that the minimum of hate tweets is reached for temperatures 15–18°C. On the other hand, temperatures above or below a feel-good window of 12-21 degrees Celsius (54-70 °F) are greatly associated with increased hate speech.

One of the lead researchers, Anders Levermann, elaborated: “Even in high-income areas where people can afford air condition and other heat mitigation options, we observe an increase in hate speech on extremely hot days.

Researchers are hopeful that the study will contribute to a better understanding of several interlinked factors that impact mankind. These include limits of human adaptation to extreme temperatures, the societal impact of climate change, conflict in the digital sphere and societal cohesion, as well as mental health.

To Know More You May Refer To

Stechemesser, A., Levermann, A., & Wenz, L. (2022). Temperature impacts on hate speech online: evidence from 4 billion geolocated tweets from the USA. The Lancet Planetary Health, 6(9), e714–e725.

Stechemesser, A., Wenz, L., Kotz, M., & Levermann, A. (2021). Strong increase of racist tweets outside of climate comfort zone in Europe. Environmental Research Letters, 16(11), 114001.

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