aNewDomain.net — How many versions of swappable hate speech do we see on social media? As in, “a good Sunni-Shia is a dead Sunni-Shia,” or, “a good Jew is a dead Jew” or, “a good gay is a dead gay.” You get the picture. A good X is a dead X, and social media has no problem virally spreading any and all of these incredibly hateful ideologies.
A social spring has swept the Middle East and quickly turned into an out-of-control hate tsunami. The algorithmic controls of Twitter, Google + and Facebook censor nudity without issue, but are lax when it comes to racial and social incitement. The rules of free speech were made for openly democratic societies, an American ideology, and the algorithms that censor material are made by American companies who were raised in such environments. But the rest of the world, especially the Middle East, uses American free-speech laws to bash and abuse huge groups of people — meanwhile breasts, nipples and other “lewd” images are wiped clean from the social space. Bare breasts are easier to deal with than bare hatred, at least in my world.
The proliferation of social networking websites has created an entirely new frontier in the war on racism. Neo-Nazi, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamist groups (to name only a few) have all capitalized on social media’s broad reach. It is easy to recruit and indoctrinate a new generation with hate. This is digital native racism, curated by hate speech. The advent of social media websites has provided hate groups with nearly unfettered access to millions of potential sympathizers. They aim to spread their ideologies and seek to make racism, ethnic hate, anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of group-focused enmity believed by many. They make it seem “normal” through targeted online posts, videos and discussions.
In The Washington Post political commentator Ronan Farrow says that social networks like Twitter and Facebook should do more to police violent content from terrorist groups, like ISIS in Iraq, for instance. But who gets to draw the line between free speech and hate speech or choose which content should disappear forever? Farrow called on social networks like Twitter and Facebook to “do more to stop terrorists from inciting violence,” and argued that if these platforms screen for things like child porn, they should do the same for material that “drives ethnic conflict.”
Even the Jews, who have been victims of persecution for countless generations, are churning out hate on social media. This Facebook page translates into “Kill a Terrorist Every Hour” and has 20,000 likes. It was created after the kidnapping of three young Yeshiva students in the West Bank.
Among some Israelis, the word “terrorist” is commonly used as a stand-in for “Palestinian.” For any person (i.e. is Israeli) familiar with local terminology, it is difficult to see the above-mentioned group as anything but a call to execute Palestinians. One post on the page urges readers to “kill them while they are still in their mother’s .” Violent language dominates the page and messages clearly target Arabs, specifically Palestinians. For those who do not read Hebrew, even a machine translation reveals the explosive nature of the page’s content. More examples of this hate speech, including racist tweets and disturbing selfies, can be found here. Global Voices protested to Facebook about the Israeli page and got this response:
In an interview, Global Voices asked Monika Bickert, Facebook Head of Global Policy Management, to explain why this page isn’t a violation of community standards. She responded: ‘We clearly list the characteristics that we consider to be hate speech, and if it doesn’t come under one of those categories, we don’t consider it hate speech under our policies.’”
But should Facebook intervene? Glen Greenwald, the known journalist and activist says “NO!” Corporations should not intervene in free speech issues. It seems to me that the hate speech and groups, no matter what the policies are, find a voice. And that voice is loud. The image below is one example of what global hate conspiracies look like as posted on Facebook.
Will Twitter and Facebook be able to write an “anti-hate” algorithim? There is too much hate speech spreading like wildfire on these networks, pushing negativity and the concept of a society that accepts freedom of speech to the point of cyber racism. Perhaps the coders, led by social policy makers, can stop the flow of hate. Or, better yet, we can fight back. For example, here is a photo of a Brazilian woman fighting against rape and misogyny. The campaign is #IDontDeserveToBeRaped, and shows social media as a tool for progress against hate.
I am aware this is a complicated and emotional topic, especially with the current strife between Israel and Gaza. Obviously, there is no simple solution, but one step could be the disallowing of such rampant hate speech on the social web, in which we all have eyes and a voice.
Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net and follow href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/104103933083654001444/
?rel=author”>his posts on Google here.