Slovenia Slovenia


Erjavec, K. (2014), 'Readers of online news comments: why do they read hate speech comments?' Annales · Ser. hist. sociol. , Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 451-462.

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Type of publication

Study - qualitative research

Geographical coverage


Area/location of interest

Not applicable - national level

Type of Institution



Erjavec, K.

Main Thematic Focus

Hate speech

Target Population

General population

Key findings

In this study, 378 readers of online hate speech comments were surveyed to examine the motivations of audiences for reading the hate speech comments that are published below online news texts. The research’s results revealed that respondents were motivated to read them for guidance, entertainment or social utility, convenience, and to seek information. Seeking guidance was the primary motivation for reading online hate speech comments. The respondents’ age, level of education, and gender were negatively correlated with all the motivations for reading them. Income was not correlated significantly to motivations. Those who conducted a greater amount of online activities read comments for entertainment. Hate speech online comments attracted greater numbers of politically affiliated people.

Methodology (Qualitative/Quantitative and exact type used, questionnaires etc)

A questionnaire was developed on the basis of Kaye and Johnson’s (2004) study and their 22-statement scale was adopted. It was posted on the Internet in March and April 2014. The five factors were defined (Kaye, Johnson, 2004) as follows: a) Guidance: People who look for advice and are interested in accessing information to guide their decisions; b) Information seeking: defined as actively searching for specific information; c) Entertainment; d) Social utility: Using hate speech comments to reinforce decisions; and e) Convenience: seeking information from hate speech comments as it is more convenient than turning to traditional sources. Respondents indicated the extent of their agreement with reasons for reading the online hate speech comments by referring to a Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree).

Sample details and representativeness

A total of 378 readers of hate speech comments participated in this survey and replied to all questions in the questionnaire. Among the respondents, 83% (n = 314) were men and 17% (n = 44) were women; 49% (n = 185) were younger than 30 years of age; 28% (n=106) were between 30 and 35 years of age; 13% (n = 49) were between 46 and 60 years of age; and 10% (n = 38) were older than 61 years
of age. Analogously to the approach that Kaye and Johnson (2004) adopted in their study, in this study, its author used a convenience sample of Internet users who were directed to the survey by the online announcements.

DISCLAIMERThe information presented here is collected under contract by the FRA's research network FRANET. The information and views contained do not necessarily reflect the views or the official position of the FRA.