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online hate

 Online Hate
 Dynamics, Contexts, & Effects

Since March 2020, explicit online racial discrimination has emerged as yet another deleterious effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on American life. 


Although motivated by the uptick in pandemic-related racism, the larger goal of this research is to uncover how passive bystanders perceive, evaluate, and react to online hate they see in spaces like Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook.


These studies offer detailed exploration into how passively viewing the online hate posts on our social media feeds can affect our attitudes and behaviors.


Located in the heart of Detroit, Michigan, researchers from the SMART Labs at Wayne State University examine issues surrounding social media, human communication, and close relationships. Broadly, we explore how people think about and use popular social media and artificial intelligence systems. We also examine the effects these technologies have on people's decisions, self-concept, and close relationships with others.


Our lab has conducted several studies investigating how popular online dating websites and mobile apps are influencing the contemporary landscape of romantic relationships. In this line of work, we have explored how daters' personalities, sexualities, cultures, and religions affect their use of different dating sites and apps. Simultaneously, we have examined how dating technologies shape the decisions and directions of daters' relational futures.

At present, we are also exploring perceptions, interpretations, and effects of online hate among individual social media observers and bystanders. Specifically, we are investigating how communication is being used for the performance of harmful speech acts on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. As an example of engaged scholarship, this research examines how people’s passive viewership of online hate can inspire them to engage in online activism, through petition signing and monetary donations. In addition to advancing communication theory and providing deeper insights into contemporary understandings of racism, the results of this project are poised to offer important practical insights that can stimulate positive social change. 

Our lab has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Communication Association, and Wayne State University Provost's Office.

Lab Graduates


Brandon Burbank (BA), William Cooper (MA), Elena Corriero (PhD), Elizabeth Diviney (BA), Allison Elam (MA), Jasmine Grotto (BA), Liyan Ibrahim (BA), Brittany Jefferson (MA), Sean Kolhoff (PhD), Benjamin Lennemann (BA), Rachelle Prince (MA), Daniel Nguyen (BA), Annisa M. P. Rochadiat (MA, PhD), Prathyusha Tadi (BS), Chad Van De Wiele (BA), Kunto Wibowo (PhD), Andrew Wirth (BA)



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