Increased Internet Access Led to a Rise in Racial Hate Crimes in the Early 2000s, according to New Research from Carlson School of Management and NYU Stern

The incidence of racial hate crimes increased by 20% when a new
broadband provider entered an area

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MINNEAPOLIS & NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–New research from Carlson School of Management Professor Jason
Chan
and NYU Stern Professors Anindya
Ghose
and Robert
Seamans
finds that broadband availability increased the incidence of
racial hate crimes committed by lone-wolf perpetrators in the United
States during the period 2001-2008. The addition of a single broadband
provider led to as much as a 20 percent rise in racial hate crimes in
areas where racial tensions were especially high.

Their 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 U.S. Census
Bureau and the U.S. 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 U.S.

Using a large-scale data set from 2001-2008, the authors show:

  • 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 U.S.
    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. 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,” argues Professor 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.”

“The positive relationship between broadband providers and the number of
hate crimes is mainly found in places that have high levels of racism,”
says Professor Chan. “The likely reason behind this is the Internet
facilitates this specialization 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.”

The article, “The
Internet and Racial Hate Crime: Offline Spillovers from Online Access
,”
is forthcoming in MIS Quarterly. Visit YouTube to watch a video
on the research and its implications.

To speak with the authors, please contact them directly: Professor Jason
Chan at 612-626-9974 or jchancf@umn.edu,
or Professor Anindya Ghose at 212-998-0807 or aghose@stern.nyu.edu;
or contact Jessica Neville in NYU Stern’s Office of Public Affairs at
416-516-7677 or jneville@stern.nyu.edu,
and Steve Rudolph in The Carlson School’s Office of Media Relations at
612-624-8770 or skr@umn.edu.

Contacts

Carlson School of Management
Professor Jason Chan, 612-626-9974
jchancf@umn.edu
or
NYU
Stern
Professor Anindya Ghose, 212-998-0807
aghose@stern.nyu.edu
or
NYU
Stern
Jessica Neville, 416-516-7677
jneville@stern.nyu.edu
or
Carlson
School of Management
Steve Rudolph, 612-624-8770
skr@umn.edu