Hater (Internet)

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Hater (Haters) is a derogatory term which refers to a person or group who expresses hatred in public forums, especially those found on the World Wide Web such as YouTube and Facebook.[1]

Haters are distinguished from trolls who seek to attract attention by making provocative comments.[2] Anyone can be a victim of a hater’s actions but celebrities and other public figures are normally the main target for the hate speech. The comments that a hater may post may be seen as an act of cyberbullying and online harassment (see Computer crime) as they can be aggressive or offensive.

Definition and origin[edit]

In 2010,[3] Oxford Dictionary defines hater as:

"A person who greatly dislikes a specified person or thing"[4]

It is believed that the word was first used in popular culture by Will Smith in the song Gettin' Jiggy wit It in 1997, which references "haters" and implies such persons are motivated by envy. Later, girl group 3LW in their May 2001 single "Playas Gon' Play" used the phrase "haters gon' hate," which is thought to be the origin of the internet catchphrase "haters gonna hate".[5]

The phrase was also used in:

Difference between a troll and a hater[edit]

Even though both parties will tend to post aggressive comment online, a Troll tends to not actually have an actual opinion on the matter that they’re posting comments on but are just commenting online to gain attention, cause controversy or create an emotional response from a user.[7]

Haters will normally have a strong opinion against something online and will express their views by saying negative comments to a user without consideration of the user that they’re attacking. The comments will usually be excessively emotional, aggressive and/or cruel in a caricature of the hater's actual emotions, which is believed to have its roots in the online disinhibition effect.

However, due to the term Troll being used in the media so often, many people will now consider haters to be trolls as they are both creating malicious content online.

Cause of a hater's action[edit]

The seven stage model of hate crime developed by Schafer and Navarro for the FBI may explain their behaviour:[8][9]

  1. The hater finds other users with similar views to form a group
  2. The group develops symbols and rituals to identify itself
  3. The group shares its views to bond itself
  4. The target is taunted
  5. The target is attacked
  6. The target is attacked with weapons
  7. The target is destroyed

Researcher Sabina Low has found that there’s a correlation between the amount of parental supervision a teenager has and the likeliness that they are in committing a cyber-bullying offense.[10] Parent’s lack of knowledge towards what their teenagers do online may be one of the sole causes of teenagers posting hateful content as they believe that they aren’t being monitored so they won’t get punished for it.

Anonymity is believed to be a major factor in the cause of a hater’s actions because it allows the hater to avoid physical confrontation with the victim, so it means that they won’t need as much courage as it’s all done behind a computer screen within the safety of their house.[11][12] With the capability on being able to comment on public forums, haters may possibly offend people who they don’t even know, such as celebrities. Celebrities are often targets of haters as they tend to feel a distance between themselves and their target even though these celebrities may be the only ones in control of their account and read all the messages that are sent towards them, just like a normal user.


On Friday 24 January, a woman was jailed for twelve weeks and a man for eight weeks due to them posting abusive messages on the website Twitter to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez. The two pleaded guilty to posting offensive messages to the victim after she used social media to campaign about placing a female figure on the Bank of England Note.[13]


In the United Kingdom, under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 and the Malicious Communications Act 1988, it is currently against the law to create online material which is "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character" with the intent of causing offense. Breaking this law could lead to a fine of up to £5,000 or a maximum prison sentence of six months.[14][15] Although, Chris Grayling (Justice Secretary for the UK), stated in October 2014 that cases of online harassment may soon be passed to the crown courts and face a prison sentence of two years under new proposals to the law.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Strangelove (2010), "Haters, Spammers, and other Deviants", Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People, University of Toronto Press, pp. 118–120, ISBN 9781442610675 
  2. ^ Zoe Williams (12 June 2012), "What is an internet troll?", The Guardian (London) 
  3. ^ Moss, Caroline. "Twerk And Selfie Are Now Official English Words In The Oxford Dictionary". www.businessinsider. Business Insider. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "hater: definition of hater in Oxford Dictionary". Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Lee, Youyoung (24 June 2013). "It's Time To Retire The Word 'Haters'". www.huffingtonpost.com (The Huffington Post). Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  6. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Airport-V/dp/B005HFDPGY
  7. ^ "Definition of: trolling". www.pcmag.com (The Computer Language Company Inc.). Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Paul Bocij (2006), The Dark Side of the Internet, Greenwood Publishing Group, pp. 190–194, ISBN 9780275985752 
  9. ^ J.R Schafer, Joe Navarro (2003), "The Seven-Stage Hate Model", FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 
  10. ^ Howell, Natavia. "Studies show cyberbullying on the rise". www.indianapolisrecorder.com. Indianopolis Recorder. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Taran, Randy (18 September 2013). "Cyberbullying Apps -- Why Are We Allowing Anonymous Cruelty?". www.huffingtonpost.com (The Huffington Post). Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Quillen, Ian. "Cyberbullying: The Power and Peril of Anonymity". www.edweek.org. Education Week. 
  13. ^ "Pair jailed over abusive tweets to feminist campaigner". www.bbc.co.uk/news (BBC News). 24 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Communications Act 2003". www.legislation.gov.uk. Crown. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Criminal Justice Act 1982". www.legislation.gov.uk. Crown. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Internet trolls face up to two years in jail under new laws". www.bbc.co.uk/news (BBC News). 19 October 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Owen, Glen (18 October 2014). "Crackdown on the cyber-mobs poisoning Britain: Sentence for web trolls to be quadrupled to two years after shocking high-profile online abuse cases". www.dailymail.co,uk (London: Daily Mail). Retrieved 27 October 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Janis L. Judson, Donna M. Bertazzoni (2002), Law, media, and culture: the landscape of hate, ISBN 9780820449814 
  • Paul J. Becker, Bryan Byers, Arthur Jipson (2000), "The Contentious American Debate: The First Amendment and Internet-based Hate Speech", International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 14 (1), doi:10.1080/13600860054872