According to new research from Italy, reading homophobic content on social media can erode one’s trust in society, Gay Star News reports.
Scientists from the Sapienza University of Rome and the Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg surveyed data from 50,000 people in 24,000 Italian households which looked at internet and social network use, as well as self-reported levels of happiness and self-esteem. Social networks increased the risk of being exposed to “offensive behaviors,” they found, which could have a harmful effect on people, Gay Star News reports.
“In online discussions with unknown others, individuals more easily indulge in aggressive and disrespectful behaviors,” the site quoted researchers as having said. “Online networks also are a fertile ground for spreading harmful, offensive, or controversial contents often lying at the verge between free speech and hate speech.” The results also suggested seeing such comments, as well as racist or misogynistic posts, decreased people’s happiness and general satisfaction with their lives overall, the article notes.