Perspectives of Muslim and Minority Canadian Youth on Hate Speech and Social Media
In this article, we highlight the perspectives of marginalized Canadian youth regarding hate speech on social media. Specifically, our research focus is on the complexity and intersectionality involved in cyber violence, especially in relation to marginalized identities. Twenty-five participants aged 18 to 25 studying at a central Canadian University (from an initial sample of 90 participants) who self-identified as victims of hate speech were invited to share their experiences and narrate their stories. Research results demonstrate that online hate speech is growing in Canada to an extent where it is has become normalized. This has serious implications for the well-being of Canadian youth - both perpetrators and victims of hate speech. The main targets of hate speech on social media in Canada are immigrants and minorities, particularly Muslims. Results show that online hate speech has significant consequences for the lives of Canadian youth. The repercussions for the victim's mental and physical well-being manifest in problems ranging from alienation, identity issues, deterioration of psychological and physical health to cyber and in-person bullying, and much more. The study concludes that while there are definite links between the rise of online hate speech, deterioration of mental and physical health, and increased attacks on immigrants and minorities, not much action has gone into policymaking and education to correct the situation.