Julia Mozer, communication officer and hate speech adviser for CEJI: A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, gave the HET Ambassadors tips on countering hate speech. There was a bitter irony to the timing of this session, as it closely succeeded the tragic death of George Floyd. The conversation, therefore – whilst initially about responding to Anti-Semitism – was very much broadened in light of BLM.
What is hate speech? The legal definition relates to violence/hatred directed against a group of persons/individual on the basis of their race/colour/descent/religion/ethnicity. However, there is a degree of subjectivity at play as this can include the likes of social media posts that have the potential to be harmful, meaning one could identify as a victim and take offence; this is very much based on the individual’s reception of what has been shared. This raises the question that Rachel Riley acknowledged in her Q&A session #BeLouder, are people just being hypersensitive to words?
The difficulty with social media – as has come to light with Katie Hopkins’ removal from Twitter – is the moderator’s need to balance one’s right to free speech with another’s right to be protected from targeted abuse. Online hate speech is difficult to manage due to its anonymity, international reach and the fact that it can ‘spawn’ despite being taken down through screenshotting, resharing and creating alternative accounts.
How can YOU combat hate speech?
- Collect and report evidence of hate crimes and hate speech online
- Promote ‘digital literacy’ – evaluate the sources you share (where are you getting your information from; where are others getting their information from?)
- Share links/tags to hateful accounts. The original poster may only have four followers, your re-sharing will direct more people to that account meaning they can influence more people.