Online Hate & Responsible Social Media Use: A Preliminary Analysis

Funded by British and Irish Law Education and Technology Association.

Collaboration with The Open University.

This project will make an initial assessment of the impact of online abuse, especially its damaging impact on university stakeholders – specifically students – across a range of demographics. It also designed to engage the target demographic, as well as Students Unions, the National Union of Students, and Universities UK as well as other stakeholders in a focussed discussion regarding tackling this problem and possible avenues for its prevention in an educational context.

The proposed research project is particularly timely given the prevalence of social media abuses, which are beginning to attract the attention of the criminal justice system albeit in a sporadic manner, and in light of recent developments in England (DPP Alison Saunders announces ‘crack down’ on social media abuses – 21 August 2017) and Scotland (Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland, 31 August 2017).

The investigators will closely engage with key stakeholders from universities including Students Union Welfare Officers, the National Union of Students, students themselves, and University representatives. To facilitate such engagement and inclusion of these perspectives into the proposed study, a series of interviews with identified groups of stakeholders will be carried out. The initial project will consist of qualitative semi-structured interviews with university stakeholders from six UK universities: 2 in Scotland, 2 in England and 2 in Wales.

The researchers’ specialisms and backgrounds merge uniquely to address this timely topic, offering expertise in different legal areas, focused on a legal problem which cuts across disciplinary boundaries. This project builds upon our earlier study critiquing the intersection between gender, human rights and cybercrime (Barker & Jurasz, 2014) and will include detailing the experiences of university stakeholders in experiencing and addressing online abuse through social media, specifically Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat.

Total award value £1,290.50