Sarah Kate Ellis, the chief executive of the LGBTQ+ advocacy organization GLAAD, suggested that there is a need for government intervention in the prevention of online “hate speech” against the LGBTQ+ community.
In an appearance on “CBS Mornings,” Ellis was asked who and what should be cracking down on hate speech against LGBTQ+ people on online platforms.
“We do need government intervention here and we need the right policies,” Ellis responded.
“This has been going on for over a decade and congress has been really ineffective to say the best,” she added.
Ellis argued that online hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community is to blame for the increase in anti-LGBTQ legislation at the state level.
During the interview, Ellis cited a report by her organization that found that 84% of LGBTQ+ individuals aged 18 and above feel there are “not enough” protections in the online world against harassment and discrimination. The report singled out Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok as not having the essential protections needed to protect the LGBTQ+ community.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is introducing a new element into the concept of the world organization’s peacekeeping activities: countering “misinformation” and “hate speech.”
And tech and media companies are being enlisted to help in weeding out information that the UN decides to consider as harmful.
Given that, like the saying goes, truth is typically the first casualty of any war – and this goes for any and all sides involved – it’s difficult to envisage how the UN might even start going about the task of “countering” misinformation and hate speech while maintaining its neutral and credible position in peacekeeping.
When he addressed a Security Council debate on peacekeeping operations, dedicated specifically to the “key role” of strategic communications, Guterres did not offer useful insight into that problem, but he did put strong emphasis on UN’s Global Communications Strategy, describing strategic communication variously as critical and central for successful peacekeeping.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has reacted to a recent mass shooting in Buffalo by signing as many as ten new laws, including one that concerns social media. From the wording of the bills, the focus is not so much on content, as on online conduct.
The new legislation is supposed to prevent future incidents of this type, and cover limiting availability of guns and bulletproof vests, but also ordering social media companies to come up with new rules that would be used to “respond to potential threats.”
Reports say that the Buffalo shooter, an 18-year-old who was previously hospitalized after making threats against a school, also took these threats online in a number of posts a short time before the Buffalo massacre, and that he was also live streaming the deadly event.
One of the bills Hochul signed relates to “online hate” and wants companies behind social platforms to further tighten their policies around content flagged as such.
Hochul said that New York will require social media companies to report “hateful” content.
“And in the state of New York, we’re now requiring social media networks to monitor and report hateful conduct on their platforms,” Hochul announced.
The Home Office is working on a new hate crimes strategy to encourage more people to report hate crimes. Campaigners have warned that the new strategy might result in criminalizing comedians like Ricky Gervais, who question the trans ideology in comedy routines.
The strategy is being drawn up despite a court ruling last year that banned police from recording “gender-critical” comments as non-crime hate incidents (NCHIs).
“These plans suggest either that the Government is not paying attention, or that they have contempt for the Court of Appeal,” said a lawyer from campaign group Fair Cop.
“Either way, it is astonishing that legislators are planning to expand the discredited and unlawful practice of recording non-crime hate incidents [NCHIs]. Following Fair Cop’s win in the Court of Appeal in December, the College of Policing promised to publish revised hate crime guidance by the end of May this year. We’re still waiting. Police forces that record complaints against comedians – or any other lawful speech – as NCHIs will be piling illegality upon illegality.
“They will then find themselves in court with no legitimate defense. This quixotic strategy oozes arrogance, as if the law does not apply if you’re fighting for ‘the right side of history.’
One of the governor’s executive orders instructs the State Police to establish a “dedicated unit within the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) to track domestic extremism and increase social media monitoring at the Intelligence Center.”
“The unit will be responsible for developing investigative leads based on social media analyses focused on radical extremist activities motivated threats by identifying online locations and activities that facilitate radicalization and promote violent extremism,” it reads in part.
The issue, however, is the debate over what individuals consider “hate speech,” triggering fears of a slippery slope, given the fact that some radical leftist activists, for example, consider “misgendering” someone as a fundamentally hateful act.
“The horrific and despicable act of terror committed by a white supremacist this past weekend in Buffalo showed that we as a country are facing an intersection of two crises: the mainstreaming of hate speech — including white nationalism, racism and white supremacy — and the easy access to military-style weapons and magazines,” Hochul said in a statement.
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech.”—Benjamin Franklin
Beware of those who want to monitor, muzzle, catalogue and censor speech.
Especially be on your guard when the reasons given for limiting your freedoms end up expanding the government’s powers.
In the wake of a mass shooting in Buffalo, NY, carried out by an 18-year-old gunman in military gear allegedly motivated by fears that the white race is in danger of being replaced, there have been renewed calls for social media monitoring, censorship of flagged content that could be construed as dangerous or hateful, and limitations on free speech activities, particularly online.
As expected, those who want safety at all costs will clamor for more gun control measures (if not at an outright ban on weapons for non-military, non-police personnel), widespread mental health screening of the general population and greater scrutiny of military veterans, more threat assessments and behavioral sensing warnings, more surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities, more “See Something, Say Something” programs aimed at turning Americans into snitches and spies, more metal detectors and whole-body imaging devices at soft targets, more roaming squads of militarized police empowered to do random bag searches, more fusion centers to centralize and disseminate information to law enforcement agencies, and more surveillance of what Americans say and do, where they go, what they buy and how they spend their time.
All of these measures play into the government’s hands.
While calls to censor hate speech and violent extremist content on social media platforms are common, there’s little evidence that online incitement leads to real-world radicalization. Ironically, such calls may actually galvanize extremists, who interpret hostile media coverage, commentary, and censorship policies as confirmation of their victimhood narratives and conspiratorial thinking.
A 2018 journal article entitled “Exposure to Extremist Online Content Could Lead to Violent Radicalization: A Systematic Review of Empirical Evidence” scanned the content of more than 5,000 previous studies, but found that only 11 included “tentative evidence that exposure to radical violent online material is associated with extremist online and offline attitudes, as well as the risk of committing political violence among white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and radical Islamist groups.” The authors acknowledged that they could not conduct a systematic meta-analysis “due to the heterogeneous and at times incomparable nature of the data.” To the extent generalizations were possible, the authors reported that “active seekers of violent radical material [appear] to be at higher risk of engaging in political violence as compared to passive seekers.” If that is the case, then preventing extremist content from being published on large-scale social-media platforms is unlikely to be highly effective, as it is primarily being consumed by those who already have committed to its message.
In 2013, the RAND corporation released a study that explored how Internet usage affected the radicalization process of 15 convicted violent extremists and terrorists. The researchers examined five hypotheses generated by a review of the existing literature:
- The Internet creates more opportunities to become radicalized;
- The Internet acts as an “echo chamber,” in which individuals find their ideas supported and echoed by like-minded individuals;
- The Internet accelerates a pre-existing process of radicalization;
- The Internet allows radicalization to occur without physical contact; and
- The Internet increases opportunities for self-radicalization.
The researchers found that the Internet generally played a small role in the radicalization process of the individuals studied, though they did find support for the idea that the Internet may act as an echo chamber and enhance opportunities to become radicalized. However, the evidence did “not necessarily support the suggestion that the internet accelerates radicalization, nor that the internet allows radicalization to occur without physical contact, nor that the internet increases opportunities for self-radicalization, as in all the cases reviewed … the subjects had contact with other individuals, whether virtually or physically.”
The limited empirical evidence that exists on the role that online speech plays in the radicalization-to-violence journey suggests that people are primarily radicalized through experienced disaffection, face-to-face encounters, and offline relationships. Extremist propaganda alone does not turn individuals to violence, as other variables are at play.
Twitter shut down the account of the U.S.-based Christian Post for accurately describing President Joe Biden’s transgender assistant health secretary, Rachel Levine, as a man — and the social media giant cited a foreign law to justify its actions.
The evangelical Christian outlet told its readers on Monday that its Twitter account had been “temporarily limited” because of a tweet about Levine, a man who identifies as female.
The Christian Post said it was told by Twitter it no longer would be able to post anything new and could not like or follow other users or retweet posts.
The outlet was further informed that it would be suspended from Twitter for 12 hours.
The “offensive” tweet was the Christian Post’s March 15 message that read, “USA Today names Rachel Levine, a man, among its ‘Women of the Year.’”
The South African government has enforced a controversial internet censorship law that was passed in 2019. Legal experts have raised concerns about the law being abused.
On March 3, South Africa’s Film and Publications Board (FPB) announced that the law had come into effect on March 1. Internet users violate the law if they post prohibited content, which is defined as content that could be deemed incitement of violence, war propaganda, child pornography, and hate speech.
The law has raised concerns among legal experts as it could be used to restrict free speech and was became law surprisingly quickly.
From My Broadband:
“However, media and civil society only learned that this had happened on the day the law came into effect because the Film and Publications Board (FPB) invited the press to attend a media briefing about it on 3 March.
This is because the Government Printing Works has not published gazettes to its website since mid-January, effectively cutting citizens off from essential information about what their government is doing.”
Dominic Cull, the founder of legal consultancy firm Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, said: “One of my big objections is that if I upload something which someone else finds objectionable, and they think it hate speech, they will be able to complain to the FPB.”
“If the FPB thinks the complaint is valid, they can then lodge a takedown notice to have this material removed.”
Cull also pointed out that the FPB does not have elected officials; it is composed of government appointees, people who should have no authority to make decisions on constitutional and free speech issues.
Two Christian leaders in Finland stood trial in Helsinki on Jan. 24 for publicly stating the Bible’s teachings on sex and marriage. Longtime Member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola defended in court their decision to write and publish, respectively, a pamphlet explaining Christian teachings about sex and marriage.
In the trial’s opening arguments, which will resume on Feb. 14, Finnish prosecutors described quotations from the Bible as “hate speech.” Finland’s top prosecutor’s office essentially put the Bible on trial, an unprecedented move for a secular court, said Paul Coleman, a human rights lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom International who is assisting in the Finns’ legal defense and was present during Monday’s trial.
“The prosecutor began the day by trying to explain that this case was not about beliefs and the Bible. She then, and I’m not kidding, she then proceeded to quote Old Testament Bible verses,” Coleman said in a phone interview with The Federalist after the trial concluded for the day. “Trial attorneys, Finnish trial attorneys who have been in and out of court every day for years, said they didn’t think the Bible had ever been read out like that in a prosecution.”
Never before has a Finnish court had to decide whether quoting the Bible is a crime. Human rights observers consider this case an important marker for whether Western governments’ persecution of citizens for their speech and beliefs increases.