On Wednesday, June 6 2018, a conference “Hate speech from the perspective of law enforcement and social networks” was organised by Spletno oko hotline at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The lecturers described procedures and existing dilemmas in moderating and prosecuting the hate speech online.
Facebook more transparent regarding hate speech removal
The first lecture was given by Aibhinn Kelleher from Facebook. She explained how they treat content that their users label as hate speech and addressed the problem of implementing the same policy for users from various environments. She emphasized the need for cooperation of many stakeholders from different fields, both internally and externally, and taking into account the context of posts. She also showed cases of posts that they remove and of those who seem to be problematic but they don’t remove.
Chief state prosecutor Drago Šketa presented the policy of prosecution of criminal offense under the 297. article of Slovenian Penal Code, which prohibits public incitement to hatred, violence and intolerance. He emphasised the importance of freedom of expression on one hand and the right to dignity on the other. He also pointed out the differences between sociological and legal definitions of hate speech. Regulation of this field is very restrictive in Slovenia, so the Prosecution doesn’t have the power to prosecute all of the offensive content online, but must assess it based on the context, influence, reach and position of the author.
At the end of the event Mr. Tomislav Omejec, head of the General Police Department at the Uniformed Police Directorate, explained his views on initiatives for prosecution of hate speech online as an offense. He emphasised that this could bring severe invasion of privacy and communication rights by the police. Contrary to the expectations of public, police officers often don’t have the means to sanction hate speech since they have to prove the context, author’s intention and the harm for the victim. In addition, they can’t treat posts online as a public place. Nevertheless, he condemns every kind of hate speech because in his opinion it radicalizes society.
Reporting to the social networks enables removal of hostile content
A new handbook for reporting hate speech on social networks prepared by the Spletno oko hotline was also presented at the event. It explains the procedures for reporting hate speech on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and the possibility of reporting the failure of social network removing the content to the Spletno oko hotline. The hotline has a status of trusted flagger and is regularly checking the effectiveness of social networks in removing the hate speech.
Spletno oko is a project of Slovenian Safer internet Program, coordinated by the University of Ljubljana – Faculty of Social Sciences, ARNES Institute, Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth, and Center MISSS. It is financed by the European Commission and the Slovenian Ministry of Public Administration.