← Volume 12: Challenges and Perspectives of Hate Speech Research


Dangerous Speech

Susan Benesch

Berlin, 2023
DOI 10.48541/dcr.v12.11 (SSOAR)

Abstract: The concept of “dangerous speech,” which I proposed in the early 2010s, illuminates a key fact that is often missed: hate speech (and related categories like toxic and extreme speech) affects people gradually, cumulatively, and by dint of repetition. Dangerous speech is defined based on the specific harm it engenders (inspiring intergroup violence) rather than its content alone or the intent of those who spread it, allowing for a more consistent definition and broader consensus that it should be addressed. In this article, I explain why this concept is useful; describe the five aspects of speech that must be evaluated in order to determine dangerousness; share examples of projects that have been conducted to monitor, evaluate, and counteract dangerous speech; and suggest future avenues for research.


Susan Benesch founder and director of the Dangerous Speech Project, Faculty Associate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and Adjunct Associate Professor at American University’s School of International Service, USA.

Benesch, S. (2023). Dangerous speech. In C. Strippel, S. Paasch-Colberg, M. Emmer, & J. Trebbe (Eds.), Challenges and perspectives of hate speech research (pp. 185–197). Digital Communication Research. https://doi.org/10.48541/dcr.v12.11

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