PRESS RELEASE: United against hate crime: European law enforcment agencies and social media companies join forces to tackle hate speech

There is an emerging correlation between hateful discourse, which circulates quickly online, and hate crime - which includes harassment, vandalism and violence.EU member states are now accountable for recording bias-motivated crimes 1 and ensuring that victims have access to justice. The European Commission and IT companies have recognised the echo chamber provided by the internet in amplifying the spread of hate in society, resulting in the recently agreed Code of Conduct which should see a more effective response to take down and prosecute criminal hate speech online.

Hateful speech has an increasingly divisive impact on our societies both on a national and international level. According to Frans Timmermans, the first Vice President of the European Commission, "hatred corrodes the foundations on which our democratic societies are built. We need to make sure that we can debate each other and live together even when we disagree, instead of treating each other as enemies."

Hence the reason why Google, Facebook, Twitter along with the EU, law enforcement and civil society organisations are now joining forces in order to address the problem with the co-ordination of an experienced partner in anti-bias education and advocacy: CEJI-A Jewish contribution to an inclusive Europe. During the past 25 years CEJI has been working with a broad range of partners to prevent the escalation of hatred through educational programmes. “We started the Facing Facts initiative back in 2009 to train civil society organisations how to monitor hate crime. Evidence was needed to convince governments to fulfil their obligations. Now we all understand that we must work together, police, prosecutors and NGOs, to tackle hate crime and hate speech targeting nationality, ethnicity, religion, the LGBTQ community, disabled people and all other victims of bias motivated incidents”, says Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI.

Twitter’s Head of Trust and Safety Outreach for EMEA, Kira O’Connor says: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with CEJI on the Facing Facts online course to tackle hate speech. Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head on alongside our partners in industry and civil society. We recognise the importance of empowering positive voices to challenge prejudice and tackle the deeper root causes of intolerance and this component of the Facing Facts Online project is extremely welcome. We look forward to working further with CEJI on these issues and finding new ways to leverage the platform's incredible capabilities to tackle hateful conduct.”

To tackle hate speech and hate crime effectively, law enforcement agencies must prepare their officers to understand and implement their legal and moral obligations. Yet still tremendous gaps exist in the availability, quantity and quality of data received by member states. A new EU funded project, Facing all the Facts, will help to meet this need. The project is developing a series of online courses to help both law enforcement professionals and civil society organisations better monitor hate crime and counter hate speech. It is a pioneering example of how governments, civil society and private companies can cooperate to deal with a pressing social problem.

As Aibhinn Kelleher, the Product Policy Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Facebook says “we recognise the importance of tackling hate speech, both online and offline, on a cross collaboration basis. Educational initiatives are particularly key to addressing this issue and we look forward to seeing the positive outcomes of this programme for those who engage directly with it and beyond.”
Lie Junius, Director EU Public Policy and Government Relations at Google emphasises the importance of co-operation in: "Google is an enthusiastic supporter of CEJI’s new online training course to monitor hate crime. Collaboration with civil society organizations to tackle hate speech is an important element of our approach to this issue."

On 5th December, Monday the press conference will take place between 16h – 17h after which you are invited for drinks and networking until 18h.
Law enforcement agencies from the UK, Italy and Hungary will be at the event, along with representatives from the European Commission, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Open Society Foundations and numerous civil society organisations.

Date published: 
02/12/2016