IGF 2019 WS #241 Understanding Hate Speech: research for informed policy


Organizer 1: Natalia Torres, Center of Studies on Freedom of Expression (CELE)
Organizer 2: Agustina Del Campo, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression CELE
Organizer 3: Victor Taricco, CELE
Organizer 4: Paula Roko, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE)

Speaker 1: Natalia Torres, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Susan Benesch, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Guilherme Canela Godoi , Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Policy Question(s): 

How can we develop sound research to understand the variety of phenomena comprised under the term hate speech? Which are the methodological strategies that can be implemented in order to advance in the comprehension of the phenomena? Are there any implication on the studies depending on who is in charge of these research experiences (Government, academia, intermediaries)? How can we inform other actors on our advances? Is possible to think in an articulated strategy of research (multitakeholder, country-based, regionally oriented, global)?

Relevance to Theme: Hate speech has been defined as those expressions that intimidate, oppress or incite hatred or violence against a social person or group based on their race, religion, political choice, gender, among other characteristics. Per UNESCO, the concept ¨may also extend to expressions that feed an environment of prejudice and intolerance in the understanding that such an environment can encourage discrimination, hostility and violent attacks directed at certain people¨. It may generate serious consequences in terms of the social fabric and participation in public space and its impact may hinder the political life of a community. If certain groups are excluded from public debate, it undermines the plurality, openness and diversity demanded for the free exercise of freedom of expression. This phenomenum is aggravated by it happening online: content rapidly becomes viral and may be reinforced by disinformation.
Studies on the matter are scarce. According to UNESCO´s report, there are rare experiences on research. UMATI research project, which began in September 2012, ahead of the Kenyan elections of March 2013, implemented a monitoring experience to analyze Kenyan online discourse to estimate both the occurrence and virulence of hate speech. This experience was only possible because of the thorough study on the term of hate speech and the differentiation of phenomena that provided The Dangerous Speech Project. Another experience that worth mention is the one developed by the Italian researchers at the University of Turin. Along with these experiences, the efforts done by intermediaries to identify these expressions circulating in their platforms and some monitoring experiences of governments, such as the one carried by the governmental Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia of Spain. CELE will launch its observatory on hate speech this year, that would be the first experience in Latin America.
As can be seen, research studies on hate speech are rare unicorns in internet related environment. Even when various international bodies have called for the implementation of policies that allow reverting the general ignorance of the magnitude of the circulation of hate speech, the conditions that cause its emergence or the effects they produce. The reports of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (2016), the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression of the OAS (2015), the Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression of the United Nations (2012) and the Rapporteur Special for Minorities of the UN (2015) have expressed, coincidentally, the need to develop studies that allow us to advance in the design of preventive policies that collect and analyze data on these phenomena and thus strengthen the decision-making processes, design, elaboration and implementation of public policies to better protect population groups at risk.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The workshop will contribute to orient the generation of monitoring experience on hate speech and the coordination between multiple actors in a multi-stakeholders scenario.


Debate - Classroom - 90 Min

Description: The workshop will be developed as follow:
- A brief description of each of the experiences. The classroom will have mini posters on the experiences on their walls, in order to invite the public to walk through them.
- Leading by an onsite moderator, policy questions will organize debate, where referents of experiences will summarize learnings and obstacles.
- A online moderator will gather questions from IGF platform and social networks, organize them and present to moderator. This communication specialist will also share key aspects of discussion through social media and organize one in depth interview with specialized press to spread the reach of the discussions.

Other activities:
- Rapporteur will prepare a document resuming policy discussions.

Expected Outcomes: The objective of this session is to contribute in the generation of an epistemic community on the understanding of hate speech. In this sense, the expected outcomes are:
- to build a network of information exchanges and a rich community where researchers, agents and officials can share their questions and achievements on monitoring experiencies.
- to highlight the need of further research on the matter.

Onsite Moderator: 

Victor Taricco, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator: 

Agustina Del Campo, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Paula Roko, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The onsite moderator will present posters and presenters and organize debate through policy questions, where referents of experiences will summarize learnings and obstacles.

Online Participation: 

A online moderator will gather questions from IGF platform and social networks, organize them and present to moderator.


GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions