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Fuelling Hate: The Role of Social Media in Hate Crime

   Department of Geography and Planning

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  Dr F Rowe, Dr K Burrell, Dr Alessia Calafiore  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Social media plays a pivotal role in shaping our society. It has become a main communication channel enabling social connections over geographically distant locations. However, social media has come under increasing scrutiny during recent years, particularly during the US 2016 presidential election and Brexit referendum. Social media has enabled the development of new social processes, such as the mass scale spread of misinformation and fake news, digital echo chambers and bot farming, influencing our behaviours in the digital and physical world. Online hate speech has in particular been at the core of an intense and polarised social and political debate across the world. Despite growing public concern and calls for policy action, there is however little empirical evidence on the ways in which hateful social media content translates into real-life behaviour. This project aims to investigate the role of social media in influencing hate crime in the United Kingdom using Twitter data, machine learning and causal inference approaches. Specifically the project seeks to understand the influence of social media on increasing anti-immigration sentiment and subsequent acts of violence. It has three objectives:

1.    Examine the geography of social media users and anti-immigration sentiment content;

2.    Assess and correct biases in social media data; and,

3.    Estimate the causal influence of social media on hate crime.

The programme of work builds on three interrelated stages, to address each of these objectives. The candidate will benefit from existing ongoing collaborations on the analysis of anti-immigration sentiment on social media and will have an opportunity to interact with key stakeholders from the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Bank. The successful candidate will undertake training in geographic data science, social media data analysis and natural language processing. The candidate will be based and benefit from a vibrant research environment, training, and expertise at the Geographic Data Science Lab (GDSL). GDSL is a world-leading centre of excellence for research at the intersection of human geography and technology, and offers state-of-the-art computational and data facilities.

Candidates should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree, and Masters Degree with Merit/Distinction, or equivalent in Geography, Geosciences, GIS, Computer Science or a related field

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Francisco Rowe ([Email Address Removed]).

To apply for this opportunity, please visit: and click the 'Ready to apply? Apply online.'

Funding Notes

This competitive funded studentship supports 3.5 years of full-time studies, covering UK fees (, annual stipend of £15,843 and a research training support grant of £5000 for the duration of the studies. If you are an international student, you will need to cover the differences in fees.
Shortlisted candidates will have an interview on the 9th of March 2022 (date tbc).
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