Countering online hate speech

The study provides a global overview of the dynamics characterizing hate speech online and some of the measures that have been adopted to counteract and mitigate it, highlighting good practices that have emerged at the local and global levels. The publication offers a comprehensive analysis of the international, regional and national normative frameworks, with a particular emphasis on social and non-regulatory mechanisms that can help to counter the production, dissemination and impact of hateful messages online.

This study covers a number of axes along which hatred can be constructed, but not necessarily the full range of social categories such as race, ethnicity, language group, gender, religion, sexual preference or nationality. It recognizes that, however defined, the notion of hate speech is not about abstract ideas, such as political ideologies, faiths or beliefs – which ideas should not be conflated with specific groups that may subscribe to them. Hate speech concerns antagonism towards people.

The study further acknowledges that the biggest problems of hate speech online are currently in countries where there is high Internet connectivity. At the same time, this situation may portend similar developments elsewhere as more people become connected around the world. The study also registers that many of the responses which it assesses have evolved as reactions to cases of online hate speech. In this light, some of these experiences could be considered for adaptation proactively and early-on, rather than only after the emergence of the problem. The purpose of this study is to seek broader lessons from a range of empirical situations.

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