Press Pack for the Media / Bloggers

Why is online hate an urgent problem?

Hate speech can lead to suicide, self harm, and physical and emotional abuse. It puts the lives of individuals at risk, and can cause entire communities to feel unwelcome and withdraw from active participation in society. It destroys the public good of an inclusive society. The harm in hate speech, combined with the power of social media, creates a dangerous mix. It allows hate to go viral, individuals to be targeted, and communities to be attacked. Social media can bring stereotypes and bigoted ignorance to the masses. It can also be used to promote extremism and incite riots.

How will Fight Against Hate tackle this problem?

People who see online hate and report it to social media companies often express concern that their complaints are wrongly rejected. Research by experts, including extensive research by the Online Hate Prevention Institute, has demonstrated that social media platforms often get it wrong. There is an urgent need to monitor how social media companies respond to users reports, and when they do act on the report, how long it takes them. Fight Against Hate will gather this data based on user reports and reviews. By having transparency on the effectiveness of social media companies when it comes to acting on user reports, we believe companies will seek to do better, that is, they will seek to remove hate more accurately and more quickly.

It's also important to know the sorts of hate social media companies refuse to recognise as hate speech, and therefore refuse to remove from their platform. Facebook protected "rape jokes" for years before correcting their policy. They still refuse to recognise Holocaust denial as a form of hate speech. Aboriginal Memes too were a foreign concept to them. It is important to find and independently assess those items the platforms refuse to remove. Research into the areas where existing approaches are failing are needed to both understand and fix these problems. The data gathered through Fight Against Hate will allow the hard cases to be more easily found. When the same issue occurs repeatedly, there is a powerful case for the platforms to change their approach. So long as some types of hate are ignored, Fight Against Hate will continue to gather more and more examples of the platforms failing, and this too will create more pressure for change.

Offering people a chance to participate as part of a community tackling hate will also help to build up resilience. It's easier to stand up against the bigots when you know others have your back. Bringing people together, to work against all forms of hate, will strengthen communities and the multicultural fabric of society. This too will reduce the impact hate speech has on the individuals and communities it targets.

More Information:

The Launch Event

The night before International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2014, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, launched Fight Against Hate at an event in Sydney. The evening also featured a range of other speakers and a panel discussion, all focused on the issue of hate speech on social media platforms.

Who is behind this tool?

Fight Against Hate is the flagship project of the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI), Australia's only charity dedicated to reducing the risk of harm from online hate. We work to protect people from the dangers of cyber-racism, cyber-bullying, serious trolling and other forms of online hate.

Founded in January 2012, OHPI has had a significant impact against the rising tide of online hate. Our first success saw YouTube remove over 1,500 racist videos overnight. Since then we have tackled issues such as: Aboriginal Memes, antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, misogyny, homophobia, cyber-bullying, attacks against the ANZACs and military veterans, trolling, and digital self harm. In addition to our public work we also work with a range of government agencies providing confidential reports and analysis, and actively take part in consultations and public discussions on law reform and public policy.

Despite our success, we are working against a growing tide of hate. We need a new solution, a crowd powered solution, to meet that challenge. "Fight Against Hate" is that solution.

What sort of data will Fight Against Hate provide?

Different users of the system will see different information from the system.

Regular users will see:

  • All items they have reported, including when they first reported it and whether it is still online.

  • All items reported by their team, including when the first member of the team reported it and whether it is still online.

  • A list of all users in their team, and how many reports each user has made.

  • The total number of users, reports and unique items in the system.

In phase 2, registered NGOs, Government Agencies and Researchers will have access to:

  • A list of all incoming reports in real time
  • A tool to filter reported items by:
    • The type of hate
    • How long it has been online
    • What social media platform it is from
    • How many people have agreed it is hate
  • Summary reports showing:
    • The total number of reports of each type of hate in a given period
    • The total number of reports resolved for each social media platform in a given period
  • Trend reports showing the trend over time of:
    • The volume of hate of a particular type on a particular social media platform
    • The average response time for each platform before an item is recognised as hate and removed
  • The ability to share notes on a particular item with members of their team

In phase 2, registered law enforcement agencies will have access to:

  • Real time data on certain types of reports (e.g. credible threats of violence, threats to national security)
  • Platform ID data for content they enter into the system (useful for law enforcement requests to social media companies)

How will this data help?:

  • Human rights organisations will be able to use it to advocate and campaign against attacks on human dignity.

  • Researchers will be able to better understand the trends of hate within society.

  • Policy makers will be able to better understand the scope of the problem and plan their responses.

  • Platform providers will be able to gain access to a list of items their systems are failing to properly address.

Press Releases

A copy of our press release for the Fight Against Hate launch event can be found here:
10 November 2014 Event announcement with comments from OHPI's CEO

All Online Hate Prevention Institute press releases can be found here:
OHPI Press Releases

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