New Research on Sectarianism on Social Media in Scotland

New research on Sectarianism on Social Media in Scotland shows more work needs to be done. 

This report presents findings from the 2017 Sectarianism on Social Media survey on the use of sectarian language on social media. Social media is a space where sectarianism is often seen but not necessarily monitored or reported. This research fills this gap and is the first survey to explore in detail people’s perceptions on sectarianism online and especially on social media.

The research was carried out by YouthLink Scotland in partnership with ScotCen Social Research.

Here are the key findings of the Sectarianism on Social Media report:

  • The majority of survey respondents thought there was prejudice towards Catholics (68%) and Protestants (55%) in Scotland. However, a substantial proportion thought there was little or no prejudice towards Catholics (27%) and Protestants (40%).
  • Football was viewed as the main contributor to sectarianism (76%) followed by Orange Order marches (73%), Irish Republican marches (63%) and the internet and social media (63%).
  • The majority of respondents came across sectarian language on social media (around 7 in 10).
  • Respondents were split on the issue of the extent to which the use of sectarian language on social media was a problem in Scotland, with around half (48%) describing it as a big problem, 36% as a small problem and 16% as not a problem at all.
  • The majority (72%) thought that those posting comments or images on social media which were offensive toward someone because they are Protestant or Catholic caused a great deal/quite a lot or some degree of harm to Scotland’s image and reputation.
  • 58% of respondents thought it unacceptable to use the word ‘Fenian’ in an online post with a considerably lower proportion believing that use of the word ‘Proddy’ was unacceptable (42%). However, a significant proportion of people thought it acceptable to use these expressions online (23% and 31% respectively).
  • Respondents were presented with four real tweets which used sectarian expressions and asked whether they considered their language acceptable. You can find the tweets here. 

Download the report.

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