A poll suggests that most US young people are not offended by online anti-gay, racist or sexist slurs.

According to an Associated Press-MTV survey, most young people think it’s just ‘joking around’ when their friends use words like ‘fag’ or ‘slut’.

Fifty-one per cent of those polled said they see slurs on Facebook or MySpace but most (57 per cent) say these are due to people trying to be funny.

Only around half that number believe people who use slurs hold hateful views.

Just a third of young people saw words like ‘fag’ and ‘slut’ as seriously offensive.

Of those who are gay, or have a gay friend, 36 per cent find the word ‘fag’ offensive online, whereas just 23 per cent of others did.

More young people (44 per cent) said they would be “very” or “extremely” offended if they saw someone using the word ‘nigger’ online but 35 per cent said they wouldn’t be too bothered and 25 per cent said they wouldn’t be bothered at all.

However, 60 per cent of African-American young people said they would be offended if they saw the word directed at someone else.

Other popular jibes included ‘slut’, ‘retarded’ and ‘fat’.

The poll found that 54 per cent young people see the use of the words in their own social circles as acceptable because “I know we don’t mean it”.

But when asked the question in a wider context, most said such language was always wrong.

The poll surveyed 1,355 people ages 14-24 nationwide.