Good Intentions Gone Wrong: How the Revealing of IP Location on Social Media Impacts User Behaviour

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Yunshu Hu
Weiqi Wang
Qichang Zheng


Introduction: This paper is motivated by a Chinese slang that literally translates to “map cannon” in English. This refers to the internet phenomenon where people, usually on social media, post provocative or discriminatory content that is targeting people of a specific geographical origin.

Literature review/research gap: This study serves as a valuable addition to the existing literature on the mechanisms driving online hate speech and the analysis of regulatory measures on online platforms. Moreover, this is an innovative investigation into the cultural divisions within China, challenging the notion of it being an almost mono-ethnic country.

Research method: Our research methodology includes implementing a regression discontinuity design (RDD) around the date of the policy change to study the overall impact on user sentiment. Additionally, we employ a difference-in-differences (DID) model to specifically analyse hate speech based on geographical location. In the DID model, we compare two groups of Weibo posts: those with hashtags containing location information and those without. It is worth noting that hashtags, or trending topics, are a prominent feature of Weibo, providing real time updates on social and entertainment news in concise sentences or phrases.

Findings: IP policy, there is a noticeable shift towards a more positive sentiment among users on the platform, implying a decrease in overall hate speech. However, the posts that do not explicitly include geographical location information in their content now exhibit a more negative sentiment. This negative shift is attributed to the fact that the location information is inadvertently exposed through the disclosed IP address. Consequently, it can be inferred that the revelation of IP addresses contributes to an increase in instances of geographical hate speech.

Theoretical and practitioner implications: This project serves as a significant contribution to the broader understanding of the effects of online hate speech regulation and the phenomenon of geographical homophily.

Limitations: There are several potential threats to the internal validity of the results.

Australian Academy of Business Research, vol 1, issue 1, September 2023, pp 1-10

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