Exposure to online hate material and social trust among Finnish youth

Matti Näsi (Department of Social Research/Economic Sociology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Pekka Räsänen (Department of Social Research/Economic Sociology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
James Hawdon (Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)
Emma Holkeri (Department of Social Research/Economic Sociology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Atte Oksanen (School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Publication date: 3 August 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Trust is one of the key elements in social interaction; however, few studies have analyzed how the proliferation of new information and communication technologies influences trust. The authors examine how exposure to hate material in the internet correlates with Finnish youths’ particularized and generalized trust toward people who have varying significance in different contexts of life. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to provide new information about current online culture and its potentially negative characteristics.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data collected in the spring of 2013 among Finnish Facebook users (n=723) ages 15-18, the authors measure the participants’ trust in their family, close friends, other acquaintances, work or school colleagues, neighbors, people in general, as well as people only met online.

Findings

Witnessing negative images and writings reduces both particularized and generalized trust. The negative effect is greater for particularized trust than generalized trust. Therefore, exposure to hate material seems to have a more negative effect on the relationships with acquaintances than in a more general context.

Research limitations/implications

The study relies on a sample of registered social media users from one country. In future research, cross-national comparisons are encouraged.

Originality/value

The findings show that trust plays a significant role in online setting. Witnessing hateful online material is common among young people. This is likely to have an impact on perceived social trust. Hateful communication may then impact significantly on current online culture, which has a growing importance for studying, working life, and many leisure activities.

Keywords

Citation

Näsi, M., Räsänen, P., Hawdon, J., Holkeri, E. and Oksanen, A. (2015), "Exposure to online hate material and social trust among Finnish youth", Information Technology & People, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 607-622. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-09-2014-0198

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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