IGF 2020 WS #192 Haters gonna hate? Identifying & measuring online hatespeech


Organizer 1: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Organizer 2: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Organizer 3: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Organizer 4: Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 5: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Speaker 1: Paulina Gutierrez , Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Wolfram Bechtel, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Martha Stickings, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

• What evidence do policymakers need to inform sustainable, proportionate and comprehensive policy measures and regulations to protect human rights internationally? • How can tools to identify and measure online hate speech work across languages, contexts and national jurisdictions? Can such tools operate at a scale proportionate to the quantity of content constantly uploaded to the internet? • How can the wide range of stakeholders better work together to address hate speech online? How should such cooperation take account of different definitions of hate speech? • How do we balance the need to remove hate speech with protecting freedom of expression? How should we define the role of automated means in tackling hate speech online?

While there is widespread acknowledgment of the importance of action to address online hate speech, more attention is needed on how to ensure a reliable and comprehensive evidence base for legal and policy action. By bringing together different international experiences of identifying and measuring online hate speech, this session will highlight how to increase our knowledge and understanding the phenomenon and better protect fundamental rights.


GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals


Harassment, hate speech and (incitement to) violence on the internet has become an everyday reality for many people, from women to persons with disabilities, and members of ethnic and religious minorities. Online hate speech affects its victims’ fundamental rights in many ways, impacting the enjoyment of rights ranging from privacy, data protection and freedom of expression, to effective remedy, non-discrimination and freedom to conduct a business. Its potentially devastating impact on individuals is compounded by the wider societal implications of greater polarisation. Effectively addressing online hate speech requires understanding its extent, nature and how it is disseminated. Through an interactive multi-stakeholder discussion, this session will consider how to identify and measure online hate speech across different countries and languages. It will offer an opportunity to discuss different approaches to collecting and analysing incidents of online hate speech, measuring its spread and assessing the ways it affects different groups in our societies. Accurately measuring online hate helps the design of better policy to prevent it and to identify and investigate incidents when they occur, including when online hate is triggered by particular events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The roundtable will consist of brief opening interventions by the subject matter experts (approx. 30 mins) to highlight the instruments they have developed and are working with to identify and measure online hate speech, followed by a discussion with and between other participants: • Moderator: David Reichel, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights: introduce the subject matter experts, explain the discussion topic and highlight the key human rights issues at stake. • Wolfram Bechtel, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance: setting out how measuring online hate speech can support the development of a clear, rule of law-based framework to address it. • Facebook (name TBC): highlighting the steps major tech companies are taking to measure and identify online hate speech and its dissemination, and how they make use of this data. • Paulina Gutiérrez, Article 19: reflecting on issues related freedom of expression from a global perspective. • Andrea Di Nicola, Hatemeter: showcasing the tool they have developed to monitor, analyse and tackle anti-Muslim hatred online across different countries, and to develop counter-narratives. • Emmi Clay Bevensee, Mozilla Fellow: highlighting the technical and methodological challenges in measuring online hate speech. To support practical outcomes and substantive policy discussions, subject matter experts will be provided with a set of guiding questions prepared by the organisers. These will ensure that each of the key policy questions are addressed. Discussion during the session will be facilitated by keeping the opening interventions short, leaving the bulk of the session for exchanges of questions and ideas with and between the walk-in participants and speakers. Speakers will be encouraged to respond to each other’s interventions, and those of the audience.

Expected Outcomes

Discussions are underway at the national, regional and international levels – as well as with and among business and civil society – about how best to tackle the phenomenon of hate speech online. This session will contribute to identifying how to collect the data on experiences of online hate speech necessary to support effective, evidence-based policymaking. Participants will gain insight into existing approaches to identifying and measuring online hate speech, and learn about how such data is supporting law and policy initiatives to combat it.

At the outset of the session, the moderators will introduce some key questions to the audience, encouraging them to reflect on them during the opening interventions by the subject matter experts and to contribute their ideas and suggestions on these issues during the discussions. Throughout the session, the moderators will proactively reach out to walk-in participants, encouraging them to not only ask questions but to share their own ideas and experiences. Speakers will be clearly briefed on the format and encouraged to ask their own questions to each other and other participants.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Experiences and fear of online hate speech prevents people from taking full advantage of the opportunities the internet offers, with negative repercussions across society and the economy. Ensuring that rights are protected online is a core challenge for internet governance. Successfully tackling online hate speech requires cooperation between governments, the private sector and civil society. Determining what constitutes hate speech is the responsibility of governments in line with their human rights obligations. But the private sector and civil society are essential actors in developing the tools to identify and measure it, which in turn serve as a basis for effective, evidence-based law and policy.

Relevance to Theme: Feeling free to express our identities without fear of becoming victims of online hate speech is essential for maintaining both security and safety, and for maintaining trust in the internet and online platforms. Successfully identifying and measuring online hate speech across different countries raises questions of how to develop tools capable of operating across multiple languages and contexts, and at a scale adequate to the huge quantity of content constantly uploaded to the internet. This session highlights how to ensure the robust, comprehensive evidence on experiences of online hate speech necessary to inform law and policy that upholds everyone’s human rights online.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: The co-organisers will actively promote the session on social media, encouraging remote participation and exchanges on the issues raised during the discussion. Remote participants will be able to pose questions to subject matter experts and other participants during the session. A special hashtag will be created, digital promotional materials will be published on official online platforms of both co-organisers and finally, both co-organisers will be running social media campaigns with a specific focus on Twitter and Facebook platforms.