Hate speech is a controversial and debated phenomenon, as it lies in a complex nexus with free speech. Several treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) have attempted to define its contours. It is indeed a controversial term, as it is positioned in a delicate balance between freedom of expression and the respect for equality, liberty and dignity of every human being.
Legally and politically speaking there is an existing division between the American and the European approach to regulate hate speech, since the will of the United States to protect freedom of expression, as promoted by the First Amendment, has much broader boundaries than what is actually tolerated in Europe.
Moreover the internet’s speed widely spreads the phenomenon and therefore makes it difficult for the IT companies, i.e. private social platforms, to regulate online hate speech. What then bring even more issues to the matter are the dynamics through which certain types of hateful contents lead—or not— to actual acts of discrimination or violence.
In such a complex panorama we tried to follow a possible path that a user could take in order to get information and form an opinion about hate speech, starting with a theoretical approach to the issue, moving to a more practical observation of the hatred phenomenon, up to analyzing which are the opinions of the users by actual observing real discussions on social platforms.
We have therefore tried to map the controversial debate that the Hate Speech term generates: is it filtering or censorship? What we can deduce from such a vast phenomenon is that the discussion, rather than promoting these two kind of polarizations, tells instead the intrinsic nuances of the topic, making the controversy alive, understandable and debatable.