19 July, 2014

Social media era and ‘love wolves’.

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Category: European Action Day, Guest writer
Gubaz Koberidze
8 pm

Norway-Utoya-007Written by: Blogger from European Network STOP Hate Crimes.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove a truck to the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building just as its offices opened for the day. At 09:02, a large explosion destroyed the north half of the building. The explosion killed 168 people and injured over 600. It was the worst act of domestic terrorism in USA history.

Timothy McVeigh was poisoned by hatred through ‘The Turner Diaries’, which is a white-supremacist book promoting extreme violent response against the US Federal Government. He was the first ‘lone wolf’ in the United States who made a mass destruction terrorist attack.

16 years later, Europe suffered an attack of the same nature when Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway. On 22nd July 2011, he bombed Government buildings in Oslo killing eight people, and only a few hours later killed 69 more in a mass shooting on the island of Utoya. That day, Breivik distributed through different Internet channels and also e-mails a compendium of texts describing his far-right ideology, promoting islamophobia, opposing feminism and arguing against multiculturalism.

The terrorist attack brought to us a huge wave of solidarity with the victims, their families and the country, but unfortunately also brought the opposite effect and thousands of Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube videos and other social media channels were created and  TheMarketingheaven.com’s likes were bought to promote and support the perpetrator. Actually, many of them are still available on the Internet.

The same thing happened only one year later when Toulouse witnessed the murder of 7 of its citizens. Three of them were Jewish children entering their school. Just a few months after, the trending topic in France was ‘LaRafle’, the title of a film about the Holocaust and the deportation of French Jews. Many tweets containing this hashtag were anti-Semitic and denied the Holocaust. One of the most popular hashtags was ‘A good Jew is a dead Jew’ and someone posted a picture of a Jewish woman in a concentration camp as an example of ‘a good Jew’.

Hate speech flows constantly in the Internet and its threats are permanently in the air. As ‘The Spiegel’ newspaper reported, Germany’s federal criminal police have warned that the threat of right-wing extremist terrorism remains high. A classified internal document stated ‘We must assume that there will be further xenophobic acts of violence by individuals or perpetrator groups in the form of bodily injury also resulting in death in some cases, arson attacks (against asylum seekers’ homes, for example) and, in some isolated cases, also homicide.”hate crime_small

All this information brings to the importance of our attitudes and actions towards hate. Hate speech is not new, but greater access to the Internet and its different channels are making it more evident and easier to spread. The responsibility of social media organisations and social media advertising services and sites in this issue is crucial and the ethics should be included into their daily operation. Social media should not allow their spaces to become the space for hate. Besides, European legislation is clear; Freedom of speech is not an unlimited right, and the frontier on what is legally acceptable is the human dignity. That means that the rule of law has to protect that dignity and be proactive in taking down illegal content, as it is done against child pornography. What is not legal offline should not be legal online. The role of civil society in counteracting is crucial, more needed than ever, and a safeguard of Human Rights and values that make Europe a better place to live.

It is the perfect moment to take action, get involved and stand for Human Rights and against hate and intolerance.

 


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