Workshop 8

Hashtag: #eurodig_ws8

Hate speech and its consequences for human rights online

Referring to proposal no.: 33, 79 + voting result
Find here the list of submitted proposals

Organising team / focal point:

Key participants:

Moderator: Bridget O’Loughlin, Council of Europe

Reporter: Adriana Delgado, Activist, No Hate Speech Movement

Remote participation moderator: Viktor Szabados, facilitator of the No Hate Speech Movement, IRPC board member, ICANN stakeholder

Description / key focus:

The Internet has become a global space for creativity, communication and participation. Online, we can create, share and use media content in a variety of ways and with very little effort. This is even more the case on social networks, where we can upload, forward, comment or promote contents. Internet users, and young people in particular, have a right to perceive their online interactions as benefitting from the freedoms of expression and information. Consequently they should expect what is communicated online to be uncensored. However, reality tells us that the online world is also a space where the values of human rights are often ignored or violated. Among others, hate speech online has become a major form of human rights abuse, with very serious consequences for people, both online and offline. Young people are directly concerned as victims, targets, active and passive agents. But hate speech affects all of society. Hate speech as such is not a new human rights issue. However, its online dimension and the potential negative impact on democratic development give new reasons for concern. One of these reasons is that the online manifestation of hate speech is difficult to monitor, measure and counter.

A debate/discussion on the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the internet – users, governments, civil society, social network corporations, governments etc. in this regard. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) will be presenting their findings related to cyber hate, including harassment and hate speech, from the latest FRA surveys: EU LGBT survey, survey of Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of discrimination and hate crime in European Union Member States, and survey on gender-based violence against women. The surveys asked about offensive, threatening comments in person, sent by emails, sms and through social networking



…find out more on the WIKI here


The session started with the screening of the video “Cats Unicorns and Hate Speech” produced by the No Hate Ninjas for the No Hate Speech Movement. With this video, the goal was to set the tone for the debate, namely be presenting the main challenges raised by the rise of social media concerning hate speech.

Campaign activist Jana Minochkina started by sharing her experience as target of hate speech, after she wrote a blog post on the racist online forum Chimpania. Her testimonial raised some questions on online safety and annimity.

Vida Beresneviciute’s intervention ensued. Vida presented the results of a survey on vulnerable groups who have experienced online hate speech and harassment. The survey provided some statistics and also insight into the consequences of hate speech.

MajaRokovic then presented some points on the conciliation of hate speech and freedom of speech. She pointed out that free speech is not an absolute right and that limitations are defined by law. Education and awareness raising were pointed as alternative solutions to deleting hateful content.

Among the participants of the workshop, some disagreed with the idea that there are limits to freedom of speech. Others countered this with the need to focus on the consequences of hate speech on its targets and underlined the need for safety for disadvantaged groups. The discussion then focused on cases of cyberbullying and on how it differs from offline bullying.

The floor was then given to questions from remote participants, which switched the focus to methods of dealing with online hate speech.  Many participants suggested that the solution cannot simply be deleting the content, because it will eventually show up again and could cause a backlash. Instead, humorous approaches and attempts at dialogue should be pursued. However, the group did not reach a final conclusion on how to deal with hate speech. In the sequence of this debate, Andrej Bencel presented the actions that have so far been led by the Serbian campaign within the No Hate Speech Movement.

One of the participants asked about the challenges to the implementation of the many recommendations that already exist. Although no final conclusion was reached, the group agreed that implementation depends on national policies and that the inexistence of one universal definition of hate speech could be one of the major problems.

The debate closed with interventions of from participants on the need for internet, as a sort of public space, to be more inclusive and the need for matters of internet accessibility and literacy to be addressed.

Conclusion and Recommendations:

  1. As a new form of public space, the internet needs to become more inclusive and matters of internet accessibility and literacy should be addressed, starting with next year’s EuroDIG session.
  2. The inexistence of a universal definition of hate speech is one of the major problems when addressing the subject on a borderless space such as the internet
  3. Given how on the internet deleted content easily resurfaces, and how the online ethos is one of great freedom of speech, education and awareness raising could be better alternatives for dealing with free speech
  4. Although no consensus on this matter was reached, the topic of limits of freedom of expression in what concerns hate speech was discussed. Legally speaking, free speech is not an absolute right and that limitations are defined by national law.

Read the transcript here!