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APN podcast: When skin colour is a weapon in online debate

Online debate can seem infused with extreme opinions, but they can be the work of a small number of accounts.

Image: Niklas Mäkinen / Yle

This week APN explores the online social forums, and the polarised debate — and racism — often found there. Yle journalist Veli-Pekka Hämäläinen found that stories where an immigrant could be blamed for a crime were more likely to rouse passions online.

Hämäläinen looked at six sex crime stories where the perpetrator was an immigrant, and six where the culprit wasn't. The immigrant-related stories received twice as much interaction than the others.

His work uncovered a group of 10 accounts on Twitter that focus relentlessly on immigrant crime and have links to influential figures in Finnish society. Some of the users are being followed by high-profile politicians, for instance.

"So they are not just anonymous trolls working in a vacuum, they have some connections to really important forums. And naturally they affect what you and me see on social media. Because each post that gets more likes and shares and comments gets more exposure to any users," said Hämäläinen.

You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here, via Yle Areena, Spotify (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Apple Podcasts (siirryt toiseen palveluun) or wherever you get your podcasts.

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The podcast also examined new rules for jobseekers that came into force this week.

Under the new activation model, jobseekers have to apply for four jobs every month, an average of one a week. The difference to the model of the previous Juha Sipilä government is that this time, jobseekers are not told where to apply but can choose which jobs they apply for.

But things do not always go to plan and the new model is already showing some weaknesses. One of the people to experience the defects of the act is academic Wasiq Silan who became unemployed last March.

"They have suggestions like professor in chain management and social responsibility. Which is relevant because it is academic work, but it is irrelevant because I don't know anything about supply chain management, I study social sciences," Wasiq told us.

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This week's show was presented by Egan Richardson and Zena Iovino, with additional reporting by Veronica Kontopoulou. The sound engineer was Juha Hjelm.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook or Twitter accounts, or at and

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