The Oxford Internet Institute is excited to welcome Carlo Schwarz from the University of Warwick for the talk 'Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime'.

The presentation will focus on my joint research with Karsten Müller that investigates the link between social media and hate crime using Facebook data.

We study the case of Germany, where the recently emerged right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has developed a major social media presence. We show that right-wing anti-refugee sentiment on Facebook predicts violent crimes against refugees in municipalities with higher social media usage. To establish causality, we exploit exogenous variation in major internet and Facebook outages, which fully undo the correlation between social media and hate crime.

In another study, we find suggestive evidence that a similar mechanism might be at work in the US during the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. We show that the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes since Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been concentrated in counties with high Twitter usage. In the time series, Trump’s Tweets on Islam-related topics are highly correlated with anti-Muslim hate crime after, but not before his presidential campaign, and are uncorrelated with other hate crimes.