Extreme Temperature Shifts Trigger an Increase in Hate Speech

Medscape Staff

November 18, 2022

Extreme hot or cold temperatures shifts tend to trigger a rise in hate speech on social media, according to researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

What to Know

  • Analyzing over four billion tweets posted on the social media platform Twitter in the United States, researchers found that hate speech increased across climate zones, income groups, and belief systems when temperatures were too hot or too cold outside.

  • The minimum number of hate tweets appears to occur when temperatures are between 15° and 18° C (59° to 65° F). The precise feel-good temperature window varies a little across climate zones, depending on what temperatures are common in those regions.

  • When temperatures rose or fell from the feel-good temperature margin, online hate increased up to 12% for colder temperatures and up to 22% for hotter temperatures.

  • The UN defines hate speech as cases of discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, descent, gender, or other identity factor.

  • The consequences of more aggressive online behavior can be severe, as hate speech has been found to have negative effects on the mental health of online hate victims, especially for young people and marginalized groups. It can also be predictive of hate crimes in the offline world.

This is a summary of the article, "Temperature Impacts on Hate Speech Online: Evidence From Four Billion Tweets," published by The Lancet Planetary Health on September 1, 2022. The full article can be found on thelancet.com.

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