The Internet has a lot of positive features. It gives users fast access to information, allows for communication with others who might otherwise be out of reach, and much more; however, the Internet allows for a lot of negativity as well. There has been an increase in hate based activity on social media, and the anonymity and flexibility afforded by the Internet has made harassment and expressions of hate easy, thus making it much harder to implement traditional law enforcement. This paper gives a history of hate speech in America, and examines the difficulties of regulating hate speech on the Internet through various hate speech cases. It explores the need of the legal system to clarify the difference between unprotected and protected speech, and narrow and clarify what constitutes a “true threat” or “intent”. The paper progresses to consider how social media platforms stop harm caused by hate speech and includes solutions proposed by legislators on how to regulate unprotected categories of speech. Further, it argues that there needs to be a clear, universally accepted definition of hate speech, and provide lower Courts with guidance. This paper proves that without a proper clarification or a definition, it will remain confusing for all.


harassment; social media; Internet; hate speech

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Year of Completion



Carolyn Schurr Levin

Academic Department

Communications and Film