In addition to their potential to stimulate conversation and participation in the (online) public sphere, social media have also become a springboard for hate speech (KhosraviNik & Esposito, 2018). Ethnic minorities are among the preferred targets of online hateful content. In this paper, we report findings from an experiment that measured the extent to which exposure to various degrees of hate speech on Facebook, accompanied by positive or negative comments, might influence Romanians’ willingness to engage civically with the Roma minority. The results show that the level of civic engagement is negatively impacted by exposure to hateful content, ranging from derogatory to extreme hate speech. People’s willingness to support the Roma minority is reduced by exposure to hateful Facebook posts accompanied by negative comments. Furthermore, negative comments are associated with lower levels of civic engagement, which may suggest that reactions to hate speech could play a more significant role than the post itself.
Keywords: online hate speech, Roma minority, civic engagement, counter speech, positive vs. negative comments.