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The Internet and Hate Crime: Offline Spillovers from Online Access

  • Jason Chan


    (New York University, Stern School of Business, IOMS Department)

  • Anindya Ghose


    (New York University, Stern School of Business, IOMS Department)

  • Robert Seamans


    (New York University, Stern School of Business, Management Department)

Registered author(s):

    The Internet has had profound effects on society, both positive and negative. In this paper we examine the effect of the Internet on a negative spillover: hate crime. In order to better understand the link, we study the extent to which broadband availability affects racial hatecrimes in the US from 1999 – 2008. To address measurement error, we instrument for broadband availability using slope of terrain. We find strong evidence that broadband availability increases racial hate crimes. The results are stronger in areas with greater racial segregation and with more online searches for racist words, suggesting that the direct effect of the Internet on hate crime is primarily due to a heightening of pre-existing propensities to engage in hate activity. We find no evidence that the Internet has affected crime reporting. The results are robust to alternative specifications and falsification tests. These results shed light on one of the many offline spillovers from increased online access, and suggest that governmental and private regulation of online content may help reduce hate crime.

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    Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-02.

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    Length: 34 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1302
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