Online microaggressions strongly impact disabled users

By Patricia Waldron Cornell Ann S. Bowers: For Complete Post, Click Here…

In person, people with disabilities often experience microaggressions – comments or subtle insults based on stereotypes.

New types of microaggressions play out online as well, according to new Cornell-led research.

The study finds those constant online slights add up. Microaggressions affect self-esteem and change how people with disabilities use social media. And due to their subtlety, microaggressions can be hard for algorithms to detect, the authors warn.

“This paper brings a new perspective on how social interactions shape what equitable access means online and in the digital world,” said Sharon Heung, a doctoral student in the field of information science. Heung presented the study, “Nothing Micro about It: Examining Ableist Microaggressions on Social Media,” Oct. 26 at ASSETS 2022, the Association for Computing Machinery SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility.

When microaggressions occur in live settings, they are often ephemeral, with few bystanders. “When they happen on social media platforms, it’s happening in front of a large audience – the scale is completely different and then they live on, for people to see forever,” said co-author Aditya Vashistha, assistant professor of information science in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.

Additionally, social media platforms can amplify microaggressions, potentially spreading misinformation.

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