Online Incivility and Public Debate

Nasty Talk

  • Gina Masullo Chen

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Incivility and Why It Matters

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 3-28
    3. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 29-56
    4. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 57-77
  3. Online Incivility: Three Examples in the News

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 79-79
    2. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 81-103
    3. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 105-129
  4. Incivility and Political Participation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 131-131
    2. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 133-148
    3. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 149-171
  5. What This Means for Public Debate

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 173-173
    2. Gina Masullo Chen
      Pages 175-194
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 195-218

About this book


This book investigates what influence online incivility—through user-generated comments on news websites—has on public debate. Built on the premise that public discussions about important topics are vital to a healthy democracy, the book analyzes 3,508 online comments in order to understand what factors in comments make them more susceptible to incivility, defined as nasty remarks rife with profanity. It also examines comments for attributes of deliberation, which are discussions across difference supported by evidence and rational arguments. Using an experiment, the book shows that uncivil comments jumpstart a chain reaction, leading first to negative emotion and then to greater intention to get politically involved. Overall, Online Incivility and Public Debate: Nasty Talk argues that while incivility mars online debate, it may also spark interest in important topics and allow for positive “deliberative moments” of quality discussion.


Incivility Social Media Deliberative Democracy Digital Discourse Online Commenting profanity news political participation election

Authors and affiliations

  • Gina Masullo Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of JournalismThe University of Texas at Austin, USA School of JournalismAustinUSA

Bibliographic information