NEWS | 13 Mar 2017

Harsh Debates on Facebook Scares Half of the Danes Away

New research shows that 50 percent of the Danes restrain from participating in online debates, because the tone is too harsh.  

“He’s just a Nazi with stupid ideas”, “The bloody Arabs are only spreading death and destruction”, “Muslims are the most cowardly people on earth”.

This is what many of the comments can look like when users browse Danish news sites on Facebook. Even though everyone has the opportunity to write a comment themselves, the tone is often so hateful that many restrain from participating in these debates. 

Every seventh comment is hateful

The Danish Institute for Human Rights works on documenting the volume and consequences of so called hateful manifestations—such as deprecation or offence, and framing of people because of their gender, religion or political stands.

Their research is the first of its kind in the Nordic countries and it is based on roughly 3,000 comments from DR News and TV 2 News Facebook pages, as well as a survey among Danish Facebook users regarding the tone of the debate.

Out of the 3,000 comments that were analysed, 15 percent were characterised as hateful. In other words, every seventh comment on DR’s and TV2’s Facebook pages is hateful. 

Politics and Muslims in focus 

Topics concerning religion and beliefs, refugees, religion and equality make the comment section extra intense.

When it comes to religion, the biggest part—86 percent—of the hateful comments are directed against Islam. And if a debate is about equality, 58 percent of the hateful comments are directed against women.

According to this research, every third hateful comment is about politics or political views, and 40 percent of these are concerning politicians.


Read more about the report on the Danish Institute for Human Rights website.

Download the report here.