Incivility and Intolerance in COVID-19 Online Discussions: Case of the Czech Republic

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Publikace nespadá pod Ekonomicko-správní fakultu, ale pod Fakultu sociálních studií. Oficiální stránka publikace je na webu muni.cz.

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NOVOTNÁ Martina MACKOVÁ Alena

Rok publikování 2022
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Citace
Popis This study aims to understand uncivil expressions that differ according to their level of hostility, which is key for evaluating online discussion characteristics regarding deliberative theory. We distinguish between incivility, referring to the comment’s tone (vulgarity, name-calling, offensive language) and intolerance, including attacks toward people’s rights or threats of violence (Rossini, 2020). The impact of hostile online comments raised the attention of researchers due to its effect, especially in the case of uncivil attacks among out-groups which may consequently strengthen opinion polarization. In the context of polarized discussions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to shed light on the communication of Czechs on Facebook during the crisis and examine the occurrence of incivility and intolerance and their relation to disagreement and justified opinion expression reflecting a meaningful and vital exchange of opinions among citizens. We firstly hypothesize a positive relationship between disagreement and uncivil comments. Secondly, we ask: What is the relationship between justified political expression and incivility? We assume that diverse Facebook public pages, namely news media and politicians, based on their distinct communication strategies during a crisis and covering different COVID-19 related subtopics of the post on Facebook, may shape the presence of incivility and intolerance in comments. In other words, we expect, that the different information environments (including the various audiences) on Facebook pages can generate different patterns related to uncivil discussions. The content analysis was conducted on the Facebook pages of two Czech most popular news media – public service television (ČT24) and commercial television (TN.CZ); and two top Czech politicians – Andrej Babiš (prime minister) and Tomio Okamura (leader of the oppositional party). Data were downloaded by Facepager in a period of hard lockdown in the Czech Republic (1.3.2021–10.4.2021). The final sample consisted of 1 960 Facebook comments per 280 FB posts. Preliminary results reveal a positive relationship between disagreement and uncivil comments. It means that people tend to be more uncivil when they react to comments, not in line with their opinions. However, incivility is also positively associated with justified opinion expression, increasing the quality of discussion and supporting mutual understanding toward different viewpoints. On the other side, intolerance, including harmful reactions toward a specific person or group of people, is represented only by 8.2%, contrary to incivility (59%). Relation between COVID-19 topics and incivility and intolerance was not confirmed, same as the association between the type of Facebook environment and incivility and intolerance. Implications of different conditions in which incivility and intolerance occur are discussed in the context of an online public sphere. Rossini, P. (2020). Beyond Incivility: Understanding Patterns of Uncivil and Intolerant Discourse in Online Political Talk. Communication Research, 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650220921314
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