The Council of Europe defines hate speech as covering “all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.”
The No Hate Ninja Project – A Story About Cats, Unicorns and Hate Speech video below provides more background information on what online hate speech is, how it relates to freedom of speech, and how we can effectively respond to it.
Within this context, the phenomenon of “online” hate speech is broadly acknowledged as a growing problem across and beyond Europe. The internet has become an important vehicle for promoting racism and intolerance. Hate speech through social media is rapidly increasing and has the potential to reach a much larger audience than extremist print media could previously reach. And, because of the anonymous nature of the internet, people are also likely to say things online which they would not say in person.
What is online radicalisation?
Online hate speech and radicalisation are often mentioned in one breath. However, one could argue that the underlying problem and mechanisms are actually quite different.
Violent radicalisation online is a complex process whereby individuals, through their online interactions and exposure to various types of internet content, come to view violence as a legitimate method of solving social and political conflicts. Some of those violently radicalised via the internet may go on to commit acts of terrorism.
In the video below, Humza Arshad – a popular YouTube Creator for Change Ambassador, with many young fans across the world – addresses this problem in a language likely to appeal to young people. His accomplishments also show how technology is not just a cause of concern, but can also help to amplify more positive messages and solutions.
If you have concerns that a young person is being, or has been, radicalised or incited to violence or prejudicial action, you should:
- If within a school setting, follow your school’s standard safeguarding procedures.
- Contact your local authority or police force – if the child has not committed a criminal offence, the police and local authority will discuss your concerns, suggest how they can best protect the child, and help you gain access to all the support and advice you need.
- In many countries, the Department for Education also has a counter-extremism point-of-contact for advice and support.
- If in doubt, contact a national helpline – various helplines exist, both as part of the Insafe network and Child Helpline International.
- INHOPE is an active and collaborative global network of hotlines, dealing with illegal content online. While several hotlines more specifically focus on child sexual abuse, many of them also deal with other types of illegal content, such as racism and xenophobia, incitement to hatred, and so forth.