3 February, 2015

Twitter tools to react to hate

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Category: Hate speech report
Viktor Szabados
10 am

How to face hate online is one of the most burning questions. Social media service providers help users to keep platforms safe and react to hatred. We have to learn to deal with abusive user behaviour. The Safer Internet Day is a good reason to start or continue.

Going online and spreading your message is nowadays so easy than never before. Social media tools such as Facebook, Google+,  Youtube, Instagram or Twitter provide a free service to its users to post, share, comment in a new way oftwitter tools practicing freedom of expression as one of the basic human rights (check your human rights video). By creating an account you will agree terms and conditions which more and more also include how to deal with hateful content, abuse, harassment targeting individuals or any groups of people based on religion, race, sex or any other characteristics. We can agree with Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland who said recently that freedom of expression ends where violence begins (article). All the big social media service providers deal with abusive user behaviour. Human rights are only worth which we can really practice of them therefore we need a place which is safeguarded offline and online. User are free report content which will be reviewed 24/7 a week. Removing content or profiles might be not the only or best reaction but if direct messages or interaction does not help suspension must be among the tools that make platforms safe. Twitter for example prohibits targeted harassment and abuse (Abusive behaviour policy, online abuse, Twitter rules). Engaging in such behaviour leads to warnings and then to temporary or permanent account suspension.

Is an expression online different to an expression offline? The captured audience online might be by a single click much bigger than usually expressions offline can be reached. And once online, always online. As behind being online there is a kind of mask which enables people or even motivate to create more freely expressions and even target people directly or indirectly. Celebrities are not the only targets of mean tweets, posts or comments. However there is an American TV show by Jimmy Kimmel where celebrities read out mean tweets targeting themselves for two years now (Jimmy Kimmel mean tweets videos). This can help to face hateful ashtoncontent, to learn to react or deal with that and engage in counterspeech. However we should not forget that by gaining audience we also partly fulfil the goals of the authors of hateful content. Usually they want to attract attention. But as we are connected online more than ever before we should learn and face all these expressions and the people behind them. If you are not sure how to use Twitter tools to react britneyto hateful content than check the short summary and use all the tools including mute, unfollow, message, block and report to the service providers and to law enforcement agencies.

/Viktor Szabados is facilitator of the No Hate Speech Movement, IRPC board member and ICANN stakeholder/

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