“I Hope the River Floods”: Online Hate Speech Towards Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities

Published 04/06/2020
Type Article
Author(s) Naomi Thompson, David Woodger
Corresponding Authors

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities experience hate and discrimination in a range of public and private arenas. Online spaces are a relatively new outlet for hate against GRT groups and fuel offline responses. This article outlines UK cases of online hate speech reported to Report Racism GRT, a third-party reporting website for incidents perpetrated against GRT communities, from its inception in October 2016 to February 2018. Our analysis found that online hate is primarily manifested through abuse on social media and is often incited by the mainstream media. A key trigger for online hate is the arrival of new camps, and a shortage of legitimate sites fuels the tensions. We consider the need to ease tensions over site provision; the need for a more serious response to online hate speech; and the need to ensure that policy-makers and practitioners are aware of how they may be affected by problematic and racist assumptions about GRT communities.