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

Creating the ultimate customer-centric environment in 2018

All businesses today that are serious about being successful have adopted a customer-centric environment.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Embrace customer obsession to transform marketing into a catalyst for growth

In 2018, Forrester believes 20 per cent of CEOs globally will fail to act on digital transformation and put their firms at risk.

Michael Barnes

VP research director, Forrester

How challenger brands can win at biddable media

Challenger brands, especially in highly competitive markets, generally can’t match established players for media spend.

Chris Pittham

Managing director, Jaywing

While a lot has been said about AI and machine learning, I don't see it put to extensive use as yet. I will be happy to have it help the ...

Atul Dhakappa

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Wowww! What A Awsome Blog! Thanks for this wonderful post I really got many valuable information through it. As a learner it's not so eas...

Mia Joseph

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

What you have said about AI, machine learning and voice activation is very true. Some of the other things we are already observing is the...

Atul Dhakappa

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Yes, Digital Marketing now getting growth at the higher level. we can't predict today trends in the digital world. Nice stuff! Thanks for...

lorenso

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

I believe Digital Marketing is moving more toward social media and influential marketing. People are trying to grow their influence as in...

Rachel Kieran

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in