Online hate speech report launched

A new report addressing the nature, scale and impact of online abuse has been launched by Cardiff University in collaboration with leading law firm Mishcon de Reya.

Entitled Hatred Behind the Screens, the report calls for tougher internet regulation and a statutory duty of care – enforced by an independent regulator – to make big tech companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and for dealing with harm caused by content or activity on their services.

The report explains how online hate speech has risen over the past two years and how certain ‘trigger’ events such as terror attacks, general elections and the Brexit referendum can lead to spikes in the volume of online hate speech.

It describes how social media and other “intermediary” platforms enable the spread of hate speech while being largely shielded from legal liability seeing as they are viewed as “platforms not publishers”.

The report was co-authored by Professor Matthew Williams, from the School of Social Sciences, whose work with HateLab has continued to provide vital information about online abuse.

HateLab is a global hub for data and insight into hate speech and crime. Using data science methods, including ethical forms of AI, the initiative was set up to measure and counter the problem of hate both online and offline.

The Online Hate Speech Dashboard has been developed by academics with policy partners to pre-empt outbreaks of hate crime on the streets. It has been established with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as well as the US Department of Justice. It has received in excess of £1.7million in funding over five ongoing projects.

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