New York :-
Broadband availability increased the incidence of racial hate crimes committed by lone-wolf perpetrators in the US during the period 2001-2008, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found.
The addition of a single broadband provider led to as much as a 20 per cent rise in racial hate crimes in areas where racial tensions were especially high, researchers said.
The study, the first of its kind to document the relationship between the Internet and hate crimes, sourced data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Communications Commission, the US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“According to FBI data, almost two-thirds of reported hate crimes arose from racial bias, making it by far the most typical form of bias-motivated crime in the US,” researchers said.
Using a large-scale data set from 2001-2008, researchers from the University of Minnesota and New York University (NYU) showed an increase in the number of broadband providers led to an increase in racial hate crimes, particularly among lone-wolf perpetrators.
The addition of one broadband provider in every county in the US would have caused 865 additional incidences of racially driven crimes on an annual basis.
Yet the Internet’s impact on hate crime was not uniform and was predominantly present in areas with higher levels of racism, identified by the amount of racial segregation present and the proportion of racially charged search terms used.
Greater Internet access did not cause an increase in the formation of off-line hate groups, researchers said.
However, it may have enhanced the efficiency with which extremists could spread hate ideology and spur like-minded individuals to carry out lone-wolf attacks.
Furthermore, the authors consider the effectiveness of current Internet regulations and reflect on future policy implications.
“Technologically driven solutions fall short in addressing an issue that is inherently social in nature,” said NYU Stern Professor Anindya Ghose.
“Instead of engaging in a technological rat race with extremists, we should consider incorporating critical literacies including digital media, anti-racism and social justice – into school curricula as an alternative strategy,” said Ghose.
“The positive relationship between broadband providers and the number of hate crimes is mainly found in places that have high levels of racism,” said Carlson School of Management Professor Jason Chan.
“The likely reason behind this is the Internet facilitates this specialisation of interest. That is to say users will search out content online that is congruent to their beliefs or preferences and are not as likely to look up content that is counter to what they believe in,” said Chan.