The internet is an integral part of everyday communication worldwide. While it is most often used in a peaceful manner to communicate with friends or freely express one’s opinion on a diverse range of topics, some users spread hatred and incite to violence against vulnerable minorities. The international nature of the internet and its global interconnectedness necessitate a transnational approach to combat hate speech online.

In recent years, several European projects countering hate speech have already been successfully implemented. To strengthen European networking and to harness synergies between different projects’ results, the sCAN project closely cooperates with the International Network Against Cyber Hate (IN-ACH) and the Facing Facts! project.

The project partners have agreed on INACH’s definition of hate speech:

“Hate speech is intentional or unintentional public discriminatory and/or defamatory statements; intentional incitement to hatred and/or violence and/or segregation based on a person’s or a group’s real or perceived race, ethnicity, language, nationality, skin colour, religious beliefs or lack thereof, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, political beliefs, social status, property, birth, age, mental health, disability, disease” [1]

In order to effectively counteract cyber hate, a multidimensional approach is needed. The sCAN project, therefore, was designed to tackle three areas deemed crucial in this endeavour. This Annual Re-port presents the sCAN project’s results for the first project year (May 2018 – June 2019) in the three areas of combating hate speech covered by the project’s activities.

Firstly, to understand the complex issues and phenomena involved in the field of hate speech and counter-action, the partner organisations gathered tools and pooled resources across the countries covered by the project.

Secondly, joint research projects were carried out to achieve an in-depth understanding and analyse transnational trends of different hate speech phenomena. Furthermore, the sCAN partners participated in the fourth monitoring exercise set up by the European Commission to evaluate IT companies’ adherence to the Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online. A second monitoring period was carried out by the sCAN partners together with INACH. Supplementary to the thematic research projects and joint monitoring exercises, sCAN partners also shared their observations on hate speech developments in their respective countries to keep up-to-date with trends and draw conclusions of common themes.

Research and monitoring alone are, however, not sufficient to combat cyber hate. Besides reporting illegal content to social media companies and website providers, the partners developed online courses and offline training to build capacities of NGOs and individual activists to counter hate speech in a diverse manner, through monitoring, engaging in counter speech or moderating online discussions.

 

Click here to read the sCAN Annual Report Nr. 1

 

[1] International Network Against Cyber Hate (2018). What is cyber hate. Available at http://www.inach.net/wp-content/uploads/WHAT-IS-CYBER-HATE-update.pdf (last accessed 24.06.2019).