The Latino cyber-moral panic process in the United States

Nadia Yamel Flores-Yeffal, Guadalupe Vidales, April Plemons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In the past few decades, the anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States has been influenced, in part, by the massive immigration of Latinos to the United States. The internet technology in the Web 2.0 age offers a new medium in which this antiimmigrant movement can appear and create what Cohen calls a 'moral panic', which we claim to has become a Latino cyber-moral panic. Of a subsample taken from 170 anti-immigrant websites, the authors examine the role of internet in the creation of a cyber-moral panic against Latinos in the United States in which they find the classic stages of moral panic must be modified and updated. Facilitated by the internet, a 'call for civil action' stage is added to the classic moral panic process in which donations and direct civil and political action are sought from online visitors. Recycled information is spread via other anti-immigrant websites, blogs, forums, and other social media, helping to accelerate the moral panic process due to the ability to quickly spread information, reach those who have access to online technologies and hardware, the assumption of anonymity, etc. Using the updated moral panic process model, the authors apply these stages to the current nativist movement which has resulted in a wave of hate crimes against immigrants, several pieces of new anti-immigrant legislation, and fostered an environment widespread discrimination, oppression, and dehumanization against the contemporary 'folk devils', or Latinos in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-589
Number of pages22
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Antiimmigrant legislation
  • Cyberspace
  • Folk devils
  • Latinos
  • Moral panic


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