Behind the Counter: Exploring the Motivations and Perceived Effectiveness of Online Counterspeech Writing and the Potential for AI-Mediated Assistance

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Virginia Tech

In today's digital age, social media platforms have become powerful tools for communication, enabling users to express their opinions while also exposing them to various forms of hateful speech and content. While prior research has often focused on the efficacy of online counterspeech, little is known about peoples' motivations for engaging in it. Based on a survey of 458 U.S. participants, we develop and validate a multi-item scale for understanding counterspeech motivations, revealing that differing motivations impact counterspeech engagement between those that do and not find counterspeech to be an effective mechanism for counteracting online hate. Additionally, our analysis explores peoples' perceived effectiveness of their self-written counterspeech to hateful posts, influenced by individual motivations to engage in counterspeech and demographic factors. Finally, we examine peoples' willingness to employ AI assistance, such as ChatGPT, in their counterspeech writing efforts. Our research provides insight into the factors that influence peoples' online counterspeech activity and perceptions, including the potential role of AI assistance in countering online hate.

Human-centered computing, collaborative and social computing, empirical studies in collaborative and social computing