Unpacking the Construction of Online Identities of Hybristophilia Communities on TikTok

Thomas Williams, Harriet Slater, Camilo Tamayo Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study delves into the expressions of Hybristophilia, an intriguing phenomenon characterized by a sexual attraction to criminal offenders. While existing literature has primarily focused on manifestations including letter-writing and courtroom support, scant attention has been given to the online realm, leaving a notable gap in understanding the interplay between Hybristophilia, online identity constructions, and offline duality. Employing an innovative method termed the TikTok Matrix Analysis (TMA), the research team explored Hybristophilia content on the popular social media platform TikTok. This analytical method identified four prominent themes: Sexual Objectification, Trivialisation of Trauma, Romanticisation of Criminals, and Guiltiness. Notably, the content online exhibited a concerted effort to reshape the negative perception of the criminal offender and their actions, simultaneously serving as an outlet for the author’s admiration for the chosen offender. The findings highlight the transformative nature of Hybristophilia content online and its potential impact on both users and victims. By diluting the negative perception of criminal actions, these expressions may inadvertently contribute to minimizing the severity of offenses and overlooking the trauma experienced by victims. The study also underscores the importance of considering the ethical implications and limitations inherent in researching such sensitive topics. This research contributes to the broader understanding of Hybristophilia by shedding light on its manifestations within the digital landscape. As society navigates the complex intersection of online and offline identities, the study prompts further exploration into the consequences of these expressions on individuals, communities, and the justice system.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalDeviant Behavior
Early online date9 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2024

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