Racism on the Internet: Conceptualization and recommendations for research.

Objective: Racism continues to thrive commonly and violently on the Internet in today’s digital age. Online specific factors such as increased anonymity and “digital freedom of speech” have allowed users to freely disclose their racist ideologies for the public to witness without fear of consequence and direct responsibility. Yet, little attention has been paid to examining racism in online experiences. In bringing the issue to the forefront, we provide a conceptual framework in characterizing the prevalence of racism in online settings. Approach: We articulate the processes underlying the racism visible in online settings based on review of relevant online communication and racism theories and studies that have examined online social mechanisms. Notably, increased anonymity on the Internet, or online anonymity, gives rise to several online attitudes that can foster racist representations in online settings: (a) a sense of invisibility and online confidence for people to act radically different than they would in nonanonymous settings, (b) a reliance on familiar group norms (e.g., race norms) and stereotypes as people navigate an online world that lack social and physical cues, and (c) an inclination to seek out like-minded people who share similar racist beliefs. Conclusion: Our conceptualization model outlines how people can resort to expressing racist views and opinions more visibly, commonly, and perhaps explicitly, on the Internet compared with offline interactions. We also bring attention to several initial research directions on theory building, impact of online racism, mental and physical costs, and antiracism efforts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)