Online Incivility, Cyberbalkanization, and the Dynamics of Opinion Polarization During and After a Mass Protest Event

Francis L.F. Lee, Hai Liang, Gary K. Y. Tang


This study is concerned with the role of persistent online incivility in the dynamics of public opinion polarization. It examines how cyberbalkanization, contentiousness of the political context, online incivility, and opinion polarization at the collective level relate to each other. Focusing on Hong Kong and drawing upon data from different sources, the analysis shows that online incivility—operationalized as the use of foul language—grew as volume of political discussions and levels of cyberbalkanization increased. Incivility led to higher levels of opinion polarization. Online incivility, therefore, can be a mediating mechanism through which the political context and the phenomenon of cyberbalkanization exert influence on polarization.


incivility, swearing, cyberbalkanization, opinion polarization, political context

Full Text: