The language of outrage

Defining and communicating outrage and incivility via social media during the Charlottesville Protests


  • Bridget Haina SUNY Plattsburgh


Protest, polarization, outrage language, online hate, social media


Media are often expected to be forums for open discussions about matters of public concern; new media, such as Facebook, are increasingly perceived as spaces for those conversations. However, social media have also come to be seen as a space of negativity where the language of anger and outrage dominates. This paper studies the nature of the outrage language used on Facebook during the Charlottesville rally and protests during the summer of 2017.  Platforms like Facebook have become places for open expression of extreme political ideologies with the very nature of the platform perpetuating the development and growth of insular feedback loops that present very narrow feeds of information. Outrage language permeates these loops enhancing polarization, creating conversations where only those with whom we agree are allowed to express opinions, and the rest are marginalized, insulted, or shouted down (Berry & Sobieraj, 2014). This paper will conclude that involvement with outrage media neither leads to an omnivorousness about all media, but, rather, media that think and speak like us, nor does it lead to more democratic engagement.  

Author Biography

Bridget Haina, SUNY Plattsburgh

Assistant Professor, Communication Studies


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