Publication details

Incivility and Intolerance in COVID-19 Discussions on Facebook

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Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Social Media + Society
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web article - open access
Keywords COVID-19; cross-cutting discussions; incivility; intolerance; online discussions
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Description The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled heated discussions and intensified polarization in the exchange of opinions. Due to strict government restrictions, including a hard lockdown, much of this debate took place online. In this study, we examine how Czechs engaged in political discussions on Facebook during the pandemic. This research looks into the occurrence of incivility and intolerance and the similarities/contrasts with normatively desirable discursive features. We also focus on the perception of differences between various types of antinormative expressions among participants in online discussions and their roles. We use a mixed-method approach: a quantitative content analysis of comments on the Facebook pages of two of the Czech Republic’s most popular news media outlets (i.e., public service television, ČT24, and commercial television, TN.CZ) and two top Czech politicians (Andrej Babiš and Tomio Okamura); and qualitative interviews with 20 participants collected during the Springs of 2021. Data were downloaded by Facepager during the hard lockdown in the Czech Republic (March and April 2021), and the final sample consisted of 1,792 comments. We reveal that incivility, when expressed with a justified opinion, was less likely to directly attack other commenters within the thread. We also observe differences in the amount of incivility in politicians’ pages compared to the news media. Incivility has increased over time since the hard lockdown started. We address the implications of different conditions in which incivility and intolerance occurred and their impact on deliberative democracy.
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