Ein Computer und Taste für Hass

The parallel rise of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and the so-called alt-right suggests that political realities still vary significantly by race and gender. As ever-greater shares of our time are spent online, it is important to ask whether these realities are mirrored in the digital public sphere or whether—and how—they differ. How do women and ethnic minorities experience political interactions online? Does such a variety of experience compel us to rethink traditional theories of digital politics?

To encourage new research on the relationship between identity and toxicity online, the Media & Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council convened a research development workshop at the University of Texas at Austin on April 25–26, 2019. The workshop invited social scientists and humanities scholars whose work is situated at the intersection of race, gender, and media, to consider the mechanisms by which digital media, once lauded as “liberation technologies,” have become increasingly efficient tools to harass and silence already marginalized groups.

The workshop was complemented by a plenary roundtable featuring prepared remarks by professors Zizi Papacharissi (University of Illinois, Chicago), Lisa Nakamura (University of Michigan), and Catherine Knight Steele (University of Maryland). The panel was moderated by Gina Masullo Chen (University of Texas at Austin).

Research presented at the workshop has since been published in journals, reports, and manuscript chapters, including:

*Workshop Participant

Media & Democracy research development workshops give participants the opportunity to receive in-depth feedback from their peers on in-progress research, to give feedback to other workshop participants, and to meet fellow scholars working on similar topics from across disciplines. To learn more about past workshops and current opportunities, please visit our Research Workshops page.

Read a full summary of the themes of this workshop and plenary roundtable on SSRC Items.


Talia Stroud 
Director of the Center for Media Engagement and Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism 
University of Texas at Austin 

Gina Masullo Chen
Assistant Director of the Center for Media Engagement and Assistant Professor of Journalism
University of Texas at Austin


Zizi Papacharissi 
Professor of Communication 
University of Illinois-Chicago

Lisa Nakamura 
Professor of American Cultures 
University of Michigan

Catherine Knight Steele
Assistant Professor of Communication
University of Maryland


André Brock, Jr.
Associate Professor of Literature, Media, and Communication
Georgia Institute of Technology
Paper: “Weak Tie Racism”

Ashley Muddiman
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
University of Kansas
Paper: “Holding Women Politicians to a Higher Standard? Effects of Uncivil Twitter Attacks on Candidate Support”

Brooke Foucault Welles
Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Northeastern University
Paper: “Visions of Black Feminism: #FastTailedGirls #YouOkaySis #SayHerName”

Brooklyne Gipson
Doctoral Student, Communication
University of Southern California
Paper: “Bitches Be Like: Misogynoir in Black Digital Spaces”

Emily Sydnor
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Southwestern University
Paper: “Uncivil Boundaries: The effects of online civility contests on perceptions of protest movements”

Kate Kenski
Associate Professor of Communication
University of Arizona
Paper: “Gender and Incivility Perceptions: How Gender of Commenter and Interpreter Shape Evaluations of Online Conversations”

Kelsey Whipple
Doctoral Student, Journalism
University of Texas at Austin
Paper: “Between You, Me, and the World: Exploring Intimacy, Vulnerability, and the Social Capital in the #MeToo Movement”

Kolina Koltai
Doctoral Student, Information Studies
University of Texas at Austin
Paper: “The Vaccine-Opposed Movement Online: Representation of Alternative Scientific Beliefs”

Lawrence Pintak
Professor of Communication
Washington State University
Paper: “Islamophobia in the 2018 Mid-Term Election: A Multi-Platform Study of Anti-Muslim Trolls”

Martin Riedl
Doctoral Student, Journalism
University of Texas at Austin
Paper: “The Troll Always Wins: #MeToo, Victim Blaming, and Public vs Private in Online Sexual Harassment”

Menaka Philips
Assistant Professor of Political Science / Gender and Sexuality Studies
Tulane University
Paper: “We are Legion: New Digital Social Movements and the Challenges of Democratic Organizing”

Roopa Vasudevan
Doctoral Student, Communication
University of Pennsylvania
Paper: “Milk, Menstruation, and ‘Men Are Trash’: Online Community Standards and the Silencing of Female Violence”

Sarah Sobieraj
Associate Professor of Sociology
Tufts University
Paper: “Shadows on the Keyboard: Attacks against Women Online and Democratic Discourse”

Sherri Williams
Assistant Professor of Communication
American University
Paper: “Stream of Sadness: Young Black Women’s Trauma, Police Brutality, and Social Media”

Stephanie Ortiz
Doctoral Student, Sociology
Texas A&M University
Paper: “Racial, Gendered, and Political Targets: Trolling as Identity-Based Harassment”

Tien-Tien Jong
Doctoral Student, Cinema and Media Studies
University of Chicago
Paper: “#AsianAugust, Appropriation, and White Supremacy”