Study: Slurs still litter social websites, but such language is increasingly unacceptable

Some people's attitudes toward hurtful language online might be changing

Discriminatory language is as pervasive on sites like Facebook and Twitter as it was a couple of years ago, but fewer teens and young adults seem to be OK with that, a recent survey found.

About half of young people reported seeing discriminatory language or images posted on social networking sites, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday by the Associated Press-National Opinion Research Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV. Roughly the same findings were made in a 2011 survey.

The language might include misogynistic and homophobic words and phrases such as "that's so gay." Many young people use such language, the survey found, to try to be funny or because they think it's cool.

But that thinking might be changing. Compared to 2011, nearly 20 percent fewer teenagers and people in their early 20s said it was OK for them and their friends to use discriminatory language around each other, even when they know they don't mean it, the survey found.

Also, nearly 80 percent of young people said it's important for people who use slurs or discriminatory language online to be held accountable for their actions, according to the survey.

The AP-NORC center's survey was conducted to get a better look at discrimination and bullying trends online, and to see how teenagers and young adults respond to it. Some of the groups most frequently targeted by discriminatory language are people who are overweight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, those who question their gender identity, blacks and women, the survey found. The most popular sites for hurtful language were YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and gaming networks like Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

However, it's unclear from the survey results whether teenagers and young adults would really do anything to stop the use of such language, based on the survey results. Less than half said they would intervene if they saw someone using discriminatory language or images on social media, a 15 percent decline from 2011, the survey found.

Sixty percent said they would take action if the language were used in person. But whether it's online or in the real world, many said they wouldn't intervene because they wouldn't feel comfortable doing so.

Tumblr, Snapchat and Reddit had less discriminatory language than other social media sites, according to the survey.

The survey included more than 1,200 people ages 14-24 who were interviewed in September and October.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

To DMP or not to DMP?

There are plenty of brands that can benefit from plugging into a data management platform. But should you engage an agency to run one or bring it in-house?

Ben Willee and Richard Taylor

Spinach Advertising

Innovations in retail will bring creative and technology closer than ever

While approaching a customer in a shop and asking what you can help them with is Retail 101, how many of us actually enjoy being approached? Generally, you have to give the forced, fake smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” while screaming on the inside, “just leave me alone!” Maybe it’s just me?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

There’s a brand in my digital soup

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

It is really inspiring to see that medial psychology & machines are going hand in hand to innovate new things and even are improving ...

CBT Professionals

How psychology is shaping better machine learning

Read more

Anything is achievable when you talk the talk .. good luck

Mo Al Hooti

Data Creative crowns Matt Bates as new CMO

Read more

Great hire and good luck Andrew. I am sure you'll do a fabulous jobRob

Rob

Amaysim marketing and commercial chief joins property tech investment startup

Read more

I need to be reborn before i can grow up & become a contestent.

Kaye Peterkin

Channel Nine's content now streamed digitally on 9Now

Read more

I hope The Block, will continue for many many more seasons.When i die, & grow up, I want yo come back as a contestent.

Kaye Peterkin

Channel Nine's content now streamed digitally on 9Now

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in