#WakeUpAmerica, #IllegalsAreCriminals: The Role of the Cyber Public Sphere in the Perpetuation of the Latino Cyber-Moral Panic in the U.S.

Nadia Flores, Guadalupe Vidales, Girsea Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This project explores the influence of discursive interactions on driving moral panics by drawing on the theoretical strands of the public sphere and the white racial frame. We apply the framework of the Latino cyber-moral panic to understand online public discourse surrounding the criminalization of undocumented immigrants in the United States. With an ethnographic approach, we find the Internet becomes a cyber public sphere where user’s interactions reinforce and are reinforced by a white racial frame, this then contributes to the spread of a moral panic, and ultimately reinforces systemic racism. We argue that social media sites and their discursive tools, such as hashtags, comments, and “likes,” help to efficiently and continuously target Latino and undocumented immigrants. By weaving communication literature and critical race scholarship, we conceptualize the Internet as a powerful mechanism for the spread of white supremacy and systemic racism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Communication and Society
StatePublished - Oct 20 2017


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