Quoting violence in Social Media. A metapragmatic approach.
Verbal violence, often described as hate speech with reference to its occurrence in social media, is an omnipresent phenomenon that has once again become accessible to a wider circle of recipients, especially in the Corona pandemic.
This often does not happen in the first instance. Rather, it is the case that people who are and become the recipients of verbal violence (have to) draw attention to it.
Interestingly, these references to verbal violence are not without danger for social media users. They run the risk of becoming victims a second time because their postings are reported and they are threatened with exclusion from the discussion. As victims, they are turned into perpetrators.
And once again, so-called outsiders would not know about these dynamics unless the people who are affected also reported them. This circle has implications for the whole discourse and raises questions about participation in social media.
In my lecture, I would like to trace these processes, present different forms and elaborate practices that are used to draw attention to verbal violence.
Konstanze Marx is Chair of German Linguistics, Executive Director of the Institute for German Philology and Vice-Rector for Communication Culture, Human Resources Development and Gender Equality at the University of Greifswald. She received her doctorate with a neurolinguistic thesis on text comprehension at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and her habilitation with a thesis on the discourse phenomenon of cyberbullying at the Technical University of Berlin. She subsequently worked as a professor of German linguistics at the Department of Pragmatics at the Leibniz Institute for the German Language in Mannheim and at the University of Mannheim. Her focus is on Internet linguistics, discourse and text linguistics, research on the connection between language-cognition-emotion, gender linguistics, and media linguistic prevention. She is the winner of Edition F's 25 Women Award and a research partner of the Leibniz Institute for German Language Mannheim.
Corpus approaches to racist discourse in German right-wing extremist blogs
Newer forms of racism in the context of the so-called New Right are characterised by an apparent absence of and even distancing from overt racism (Sieber 2016). Beyond biological features, it is now cultural characteristics and corresponding dispositions that are attributed to collectives and are supposed to constitute their cultural identity. Under the catchphrase “ethnopluralism”, it is therefore demanded that peoples can best exist at a natural distance from each other (Bendl & Spitzmüller 2017). The concept of cultural identity thus becomes a justification for social demarcation and exclusion.
On right-wing extremist blogs, it can be observed in detail how this form of racism is expressed linguistically and how this is taken up and reinforced in the comment sections (Dreesen 2019). Especially in the in-group communication in the comment sections, it becomes clear how the intense prejudices disguised as ethnopluralism turn into collectively presented devaluations and degradations. In my presentation I will discuss some lexical, grammatical and discursive patterns of racist language on the basis of large corpora (approx. 100 million words), which both serve to devaluate out-groups and to reinforce group solidarity within the in-group. Methodologically, I will show how quantitative corpus linguistic methods such as collostructural analysis can complement qualitative discourse analytical approaches (Wodak & Reisigl 2015).
Bendl, Christian & Jürgen Spitzmüller. 2017. ‚Rassismus‘ ohne Rassismus? Ethnoseparatistische Diskurse in sozialen Netzwerken. Wiener Linguistische Gazette 80. 1–26.
Dreesen, Philipp. 2019. Rechtspopulistische Sprachstrategien. Korpuslinguistische Befunde zu PI-NEWS und COMPACT-Online. In Jürgen Schiewe, Thomas Niehr & Sandro Moraldo (eds.), Sprach(kritik)kompetenz als Mittel demokratischer Willensbildung Sprachliche In- und Exklusionsstrategien als gesellschaftliche Herausforderung., 99–115. Bremen: Hempen.
Sieber, Roland. 2016. Von »Unsterblichen« und »Identitären« – Mediale Inszenierung und Selbstinszenierung der extrem Rechten. In Stephan Braun, Alexander Geisler & Martin Gerster (eds.), Strategien der extremen Rechten: Hintergründe - Analysen - Antworten, 365–375. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien.
Wodak, Ruth & Martin Reisigl. 2015. Discourse and Racism. In Deborah Tannen, Heidi E. Hamilton & Deborah Schiffrin (eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, 576–596. Hoboken: Wiley.
Simon Meier-Vieracker is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the TU Dresden, Germany. He is doing research in the field of digital linguistics, including both discourse analytic approaches to communication in digital media and digital methods like corpus linguistics and text mining. Fields of application include political discourse, fan cultures and invective genres.
Linguistic properties of hate speech
Most definitions of hate speech emphasize both the intention of the speaker and the consequences that the speech has or may have: hate speech expresses hate, incites to hatred, and/or may cause hatred and hateful acts. From a linguistic perspective, such definitions raise the question as to how can we characterize hate speech in linguistic terms. What linguistic phenomena and elements are mobilized to express hate and incite to hatred? How do we define hate speech and measure the consequences thereof? Is hate speech a linguistic category?
I start this talk by analyzing a sample of definitions of hate speech, focusing on the ways in which a linguistic analysis may shed light to the factors identified in them, namely overt and covert intention, intended and non-intended dissemination through different communication channels, and overt and covert consequences. Subsequently, I provide a brief overview of the layers or perspectives of analysis that have been mobilized in existing research on hate speech in linguistics and adjacent fields, including lexicon, grammar/syntax, pragmatics, argumentation, and cognition. In the second part of the talk, I apply these different layers of analysis to a sample of examples, moving from apparently obvious cases to cases where the boundaries of hate speech and its corollary—freedom of speech—become fuzzy. To conclude, I explore the epistemological foundations of hate speech as a category of analysis by reflecting on the following questions: How does the expression of hate intersect with the functions of language and corresponding linguistic categories, or adjacent concepts, such as narrative, discourse, and ideology? How can one conceptualize the relationship between the context of the analyzer and the context of the analyzed when examining hate speech, and why does this matter? What is new and what is old in the proliferation of hate speech today?
Simo K. Määttä is Assosiate Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on language ideologies, language policies, and the politics of language in translation and interpreting. In addition, his research interests include verbal aggression and hate speech, and currently also asylum interpreting. His theoretical background is in critical discourse analysis, critical sociolinguistics, and sociological translation studies.
Extreme Speech and the (In)Significance of Artificial Intelligence
Highlighting the near impossibility for existing machine learning models to keep pace with, let alone stay ahead of, extreme speech online, I present in this talk a critique of AI assisted content moderation. I focus on the severe limitations and the vast global unevenness in the content moderation practices of global social media companies such as Facebook and Google as the context to highlight the oppressive conceptions of automation with colonial bearings that continue to shape artificial intelligence (AI) systems. I critique the “human versus machine” conundrum that frames the ethical debates around AI and show how a decolonial reading brings to view the limits of the liberal-modern idea of the “human” and paves the way to recognize the urgent need to involve communities in annotating shifting, mutating, and culturally coded extreme expressions through a process of what I describe as “ethical scaling”.
Sahana Udupa is professor of media anthropology at LMU Munich where she leads two research projects on digital politics, online extreme speech and artificial intelligence funded by the European Research Council. Her latest publications include the co-edited collection, “Extreme speech and global digital cultures” (International Journal of Communication), co-edited volume, Digital Hate: The Global Conjuncture of Extreme Speech (Indiana University Press) and the strategy paper, “Extreme speech and digital technology”, for the United Nations Department of Peace Operations.