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Between self-defense and need of protection

by Jutta Croll, Stiftung Digitale Chancen
Published on: 08.11.12
Source: eigener Bericht

The third day of the IGF 2012 opened with a lively debate in the workshop Freedom of expression and freedom from hate online subtitled 'Young People Combating Hate Speech Online'.

Although young people the so-called 'Digitale Natives' are often supposed not to make a difference between their life online and in reality those who attended the workshop by the majority declared that they do not behold online and offline world are the same thing. They complained that anonymity on the Internet might push forward the expression of extremism and racists speech. It was pointed out that hate speech of is the result of an imbalance of power and thus directed often against already marginalised groups.

Veronica Donoso from Child Focus Belgium stressed that hate speech also stretches out over more groups of society, for example football fan groups very often are on bad terms with each other using the Internet as a platform for their fights against each other. Young people agreed and said that to their opinion a certain level of tolerance of hate speech has developed so far which is not acceptable.

When Thiago Tavares from SaferNet Brazil reported that more than 300 neo-nazi cells in Brazil are actively using the Internet for their propaganda concerns were raised that young people might not be able to see through this type of infiltration of their online communities. Other voices were heard saying that nazi websites at least provide for the chance to identify the enemy and combat their action. Nonetheless identifying and fighting extremism and racism is more difficult when it comes through social networking platforms. Again there was pleading for empowerment of users as the best means combat hate speech and at the same time ensure freedom of expression.

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