Almost 2% of the tweets published after the Charlie Hebdo attack were violent or hate-fuelled

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On 29 April a round table entitled  “Odio, violencia y delito en las redes sociales: ¿Cuándo, cómo y por qué?” [Hate, violence and crime on social networks: When, how and why?] was held in the Saló de Graus room at UIC Barcelona  It was organised by the Faculty of Law in cooperation with the CRÍMINA centre, via the CiberHache Project. 

Almost 2% of the tweets published after the Charlie Hebdo attack were violent or hate-fuelled

Miguel Ángel Aguilar, Fiscal Coordinator of the Hate Crimes Service, was the first to talk at the round table.  Aguilar talked about hate discourse on social networks and the limits to freedom of expression.  He stated “there must be a change: hate discourse generates suffering, affects the daily lives of lots of anonymous people, and involves the propagation of stereotypes and prejudices”.  He also talked about the relationship there is between violent discourse on social networks and crimes.  “In Barcelona, in all cases where there has been a component of severe violence, those involved were consumers of hate discourse”, he stated. 

Fernando Miró, Full Professor of Criminal Law at Miguel Hernández University and Director of the Crímina Centre, presented data from Ciber(hache), undertaken by the aforementioned centre.  “1,9% of the messages published on Twitter after the attacks on the French Charlie Hebdo magazine, in January 2015, were violent and hate-fuelled manifestations”, he explained.  The research involved an analysis of a total of 255,674 tweets published in the five days subsequent to the attacks based on the hashtags most published in Spain:  #CharlieHebdo, #JeSuisCharlie and #StopIslam.

For this study, the sample was reduced from more than 255,000 tweets to only 53,860 through the elimination of re-tweets in order to not analyse repeat messages, although Miró indicated that “a re-tweet is also a message of violence and hate due to the fact that the user is not the creator, it makes the message their own and then they disseminate it”.

A total of 4,838 tweets were considered to be violent or hate-fuelled, in relation to which Miró stated:  “Our initial hypothesis that on Twitter these types of messages represent a very low percentage in comparison to other types of communication was confirmed”.

Also, Miró pointed out that the first hashtag that appeared after the attacks was #CharlieHebdo, followed by #StopIslam and, finally, #JeSuisCharlie, which reflects the fact that “hate appeared before solidarity”.

Finally, it was the turn of the journalist from La Vanguardia, Eduardo Martín de Pozuelo, to speak. He stated that Islamic terrorism is “a universal driving force behind hate” which has started a divided war on two fronts:  “There is a formal war, based on attacks and trenches, like in conventional conflicts, and the so-called “guerra líquida” [liquid war], which refers to places that become trenches on an occasional basis”.