Visual Hate Speech and Its Discontents: Young Adult Chinese and Malaysians’ Perception of Visual Hate Speech

Jamaluddin Bin Aziz, Holger Briel


As visual elements increasingly dominate communication, we propose to include these as constituting elements that extend hate speech to visual hate speech (VHS). The article explores manifestations of hate speech in an Asian context to understand young people’s perceptions and attitudes toward VHS. In September 2021, a convenience sampling technique was used to collect data from young Chinese and Malaysians aged between 19 and 23 years. A total of 26 and 28 undergraduates from a Chinese and a Malaysian university, respectively, were selected. These cohorts were used to further study how much, if at all, their perceptions and attitudes were colored by their respective cultural backgrounds. As an exploration, the respondents were given a simple test with visual stimuli to understand their perceptions and attitudes. Their responses were textually analyzed and thematically organized. The finding suggests that while definitions of VHS vary, it is very much an observable phenomenon and that respondents’ perceptions and attitudes not only overlap but also differ in significant ways.


visual hate speech, free speech, China, Malaysia, social media, hate speech

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