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Comunicar Journal 46: The internet of the Future (Vol. 24 - 2016)

Discriminatory expressions, the young and social networks: The effect of gender


In the framework of the «Project I: CUD» (Internet: Creatively Unveiling Discrimination), carried out in the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Romania and Spain, we conducted a study into the expressions of discrimination used by young people on social network sites (SNS). To do so we designed a methodological strategy for detecting discriminatory content in 493 Facebook profiles and used this strategy to collect 363 examples for further analysis. Our aims were to compile information on the various types of discriminatory content and how they function online in order to create tools and strategies that can be used by trainers, teachers and families to combat discrimination on the Internet. Through this study we have detected patterns between young men and young women that reveal that there is a feminine and a masculine way of behaving on the Internet and that there are different ways of expressing discrimination on SNS. Men tend to be more direct in their posting and sharing of messages. Their messages, which are also more clearly discriminatory, focus more on discrimination towards ethnic groups and cultural minorities. Women, on the other hand, tend to use indirect (reactive) discriminatory strategies with a less obvious discriminatory component that mainly focuses on sociocultural status and physical appearance.