Free speech is one of the most important humans rights but it has a difficult equilibrium when people want to contain and prevent hate. Indeed, hate speech cannot be easily defined, but by agreement it expresses loathing and intolerance: the consequences can range from mere bullying or intimidation to actual violent events.
Many EU countries believe that hate speech might be prevented by restricting
free speech. One of the hardest battlegrounds is online, because of its
characteristics of permanence, transnationality, unpredictability and
According to the European Union average published by the European Commission, 29% of the population was a conscious witness of online hate speech phenomena. The social networks are among the main actors in the environment that are required to manage and dominate this kind of problems, since 70% of the European population has been on their platforms at least once and 44% uses them daily.
"We do not tolerate behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person’s voice. If you see something on Twitter that violates these rules, please report it to us."
"Hate Speech is not allowed on Facebook because it causes intimidation, exclusion and in some cases it can generate actual violence."
"We encourage free speech and try to defend your right to express unpopular points of view, but we don't permit hate speech. There is a fine line between what is and what is not considered to be hate speech."
Time is important because the longer the hateful content stays available, the more
damage it can inflict on the victims and empower the perpetrators. The third
monitoring highlights the fact that IT Companies have different timings when it
comes to assess notifications.
The notifications provided during the third monitoring, established by the European Council, are conveyed and analyzed with different timings by the three social networks adhering to the Code of Conduct during the survey period.
During the three monitorings, as the problem became more and more visible, there was a relatively increasing number of notifications that at the end of the process were actually removed.
Since hate is generated in different contexts, it doesn’t have a unique target.
Social Networks have only been a means of proliferation for different kinds of
hatred, but the different sympathies and policies of the companies have given
more importance to some groups despite others.
The following chart shows the categories of speeches that are held to be Hate Speech from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.
Over time, the amount of affluence of hatred towards categories may change.
The alluvial diagram shows the development of Hate Speech categories during the three surveys carried out by the European Commission.
Hatebase is a tool that aims to map the way hatred spreads: the words it contains help people recognizing hate episodes both online and in real life. Moreover it gives a better understanding of how hate words cause moral damage and how their censorship is in many contexts justifiable.