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Are you on social media? There are lots of fun things on social media, but there are also some bad things. Social media platforms try to manage hurtful content like hate speech. But there are other types of hurtful content that are harder to manage. One of these is fear speech. This is when people use words to create fear about a group.

We wanted to know how common fear speech is on social media. So we created a model to identify fear speech and hate speech from 21 million social media posts. Then we examined things like how connected users were, how they interacted with people who didn’t post hurtful things, and the characteristics of their posts. We found that users who post a lot of fear speech are more connected to others. Fear speech posts also have a lot more activity than hate speech posts. This could contribute to the spread of fear speech on social media.

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