Online hate is common and widespread, but it’s worse for people of colour, young people, LGBT folk and women

According to research from Netsafe, one in ten New Zealanders experienced hate speech online and three in ten encountered hateful content in 2017. LGBT people experience higher rates of online hate and abuse than others. And nearly two in ten (19%) New Zealand teenagers received an unwanted digital communication that had a negative impact on their daily life in 2018. It’s worse for teenage girls, teenagers who are Māori or teenagers with a disability.

Research by Amnesty International New Zealand found one in three New Zealand women experience online abuse and harassment. Of those women, three in four (75%) said they had not been able to sleep well, one in two (49%) feared for their physical safety and one in three (32%) feared for the physical safety of their families as a result.

Our own research shows that one in three Māori (32%), and one in five Asian (22%) and Pacific (21%) people experienced racial abuse and harassment online in 2018. The survey asked 618 Māori, Pacific and Asian people for their experiences, and the results were weighted by age, gender, and ethnicity. The survey asked about social media usage, experiences of online harassment and the impact of that harassment.


Of those people who had an experience of harassment most had faced racist abusive comments, messages or images directed at them.

Social Media Mob: Being Indigenous Online looks at the role social media plays in the lives of Indigenous Australians. Sadly, almost all participants had seen anti-black racism on Facebook and Twitter, making it clear that social media is not necessarily a safe space for Indigenous people in Australia. Further research into exposure to racist online hate may (and likely will) find that to be the case in New Zealand too.