"F*CK YOU, LEBRON!" Hate Culture in Social Media

Gutierrez, G. E. N. (2017). “F*CK YOU, LEBRON!” Hate Culture in Social Media. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.


This study is about haters and their behavior in social media. It seeks to introduce the concept of a “hate culture” that is practiced through platforms such as Facebook. Specifically, this research pinpoints on members of the Facebook group “LeBron James Haters UNITED” and attempts to answer the questions as to why and how they express themselves negatively towards the NBA superstar, LeBron James.

This research made use of a combination of textual analysis and audience study that employed random purposive sampling and convenience sampling respectively. Text and participants were taken from LeBron James Haters UNITED Facebook group. Informants were selected based on their willingness to participate in the research and in-depth online and offline semi-structured interviews were used to find recurring themes that would explain the hate culture phenomenon.

Edward Thorndike’s horn effect, Stuart Hall’s encoder/decoder, and Elihu Katz and Jay Blumler’s uses and gratification were used as the theoretical framework for this study.

The results show that haters attribute their dislike to two factors—James’ arrogance or his sudden move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat in order to win the NBA Championship. In addition, haters use social media sites like Facebook to post negatively about James for various reasons: to let their voices be heard, to release stress and have fun, and to also engage in discourse with other parties.

The findings also imply that there are four types of LeBron James haters—the extreme hater, the statistical hater, the passive hater, and the temporary hater.

Keywords: hate culture, social media, Facebook, LeBron James, horn effect, encoder/decoder, uses and gratification

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