The use of abusive language against Islam on social media


This exploratory study examines a number of abusive hashtags used against Islam and Muslims on Twitter and Instagram. We collected over 18,000 posts and tweets that reference highly Islamophobic language that involves the use of the ‘f’ word, spanning over 5 years. The study shows that there are four main groups that utter such profanities including: far-right community, Indian Hindu community, ex-Muslims, and less frequently regular users who do not show clear affiliation but often associate Islam with terrorism. We used a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures to explain the collected social media data. Aside from the empirical examination, we found different policies followed by Twitter and Instagram, for the latter does not allow hashtags that attack Muslims, yet it allows similar hashtags against the religion of Islam and its symbols. On the other hand, Twitter allows all types of hashtags to be used. We refer to the legal implications behind such policies, for many EU countries do not allow attacks against religious groups but the laws permit criticism against religions, such as the case of France. The paper concludes that social media platforms have inherent algorithmic biases that need to be amended.