The sCAN project: Recommendations for the establishment of more respectful communication online

At the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences, within the Centre for Social Informatics, we participated in a two-year European project 'Platforms, Experts, Tools: Specialised Cyber-Activists Network' (sCAN), with the main purpose to gather valuable experiences and expertise, tools and methodology concerning cyber hate, as well as to develop comprehensive practices of hatred identification, reporting and action against hate speech online.

Partner organisations concluded that a more respectful and inclusive online environment should be established. Based on this conclusion, the participating organisations issued recommendations to the European Union, national authorities and public institutions, politicians and public figures, social media platforms, journalists and the media, as well as to the civil society and internet users, to better address all forms of hate speech online.

Recommendations for social networks

One of the main causes of the project was to monitor the effectiveness of the social media companies in the area of content moderation. The analysis of all sCAN partners showed that social media should take greater efforts to remove illegal content notified to them in a timely manner and therefore take greater efforts to enforce their community guidelines effectively to encourage respectful online communication. The partners called upon the social media to invest more resources into scientific research on, and data analysis of, hate speech phenomena in order to increase the understanding of trends in this field.

Recommendations for politicians and other public figures

Politicians and other public figures have a special responsibility as they set the tone in online debates. Research within the sCAN project shows that hate speech, published by politicians and other public figures, has a harmful impact to the culture of online communication. Such culture in which hate speech appears to be accepted or even encouraged can lead to poisoned political debates and violent threats against those perceived as political enemies. Therefore, politicians should accept their responsibility to refrain from spreading or facilitating any hate speech online.

Recommendations for governments and public institutions

One of the recommendations of the partner countries was provided to the national authorities. They should design national action plans to combat hate speech online, identifying areas of priority in the respective societies and paying special attention to trends on the internet and social media. National authorities should establish or refine their national data collection systems for hate speech, in order to ensure effective records of criminal as well as misdemeanour offences.

Recommendations for media and journalists

Concerning the culture of online communication the impact of the media should not be neglected. The media should take care to provide unbiased reporting about disadvantaged communities, as well as they should reinforce cooperation with the non-government organisations working in the field of human rights protection and representatives of disadvantaged communities. In such way awareness would be raised among journalists of the stereotypes and hate speech narratives these communities commonly face online.

Recommendations for civil society and internet users

Last but not least, all internet users can help curb hate speech by showing solidarity with the people and communities targeted by online hate. Civil Society Organisations should develop new ways to combat hate speech like new types of counter-actions targeting the business models of hate speech websites or social media pages.

The sCAN project showed that closer cooperation between civil society organisations, members of affected communities, the media, the internet industry and public authority is needed to effectively curb the spread of hate speech online. Since the internet is not limited by national borders, more transnational cooperation is needed among all stakeholder groups to find a joint approach to this problem.

The project manager at UL FDV CDI was Vasja Vehovar, PhD.

Back to list of notificationsPublished: 29. May 2020 | Category: News