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NHRCK Chairperson Welcomes Self-regulatory Approach Adopted by Internet Companies to Combat Online Hate Speech

  • 2020-03-24
  • 1871

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 March 5 2020

 

NHRCK Chairperson Welcomes Self-regulatory Approach Adopted by Internet Companies to Combat Online Hate Speech

 

- Chairperson's statement on revision of comment policy by Kakao and NAVER -

 

Kakao recently revised its comment policy for news articles published on the web portal Daum and the Sharp Search service of the messaging app KakaoTalk through the addition of a new feature that allows users to report discriminatory or hateful language. NAVER also announced it will remove the list of keywords that appears in the search results of celebrities and the comment section for entertainment news articles from March 2020 to ensure respect for personality rights.

 

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK, Chairperson Choi Young-ae) believes that the measures taken by the major domestic online platforms represent the first major step towards combating hate speech as these firms have recognized the detrimental impact of online hate speech and showed their commitment to stemming spread of malicious comments.

 

Clearly, the rapid development of an online environment has had a substantial impact on the growth of democracy and progress of society by enabling exchange of information regardless of time and place. However, on the flip side, the Internet has become a breeding ground for hate speech towards immigrants, refugees, LGBTI individuals and persons with disabilities and online hate speech gives rise to actual hate crimes, raising concern that cyberspace reinforces prejudice against minority groups and undermines democracy and social cohesion. In addition to writing negative comments about minority groups, some go so far as to produce and upload hateful video contents for profit.

 

The NHRCK conducted a survey of young teenagers about their experience of hate speech in 2019 and found that 82.9 percent of teenagers have seen hateful comments on online platforms such as social networking sites, online community, YouTube or games. This indicates that the Internet is the major channel for encountering hate speech.

 

As voluntary participation of users is the basic feature of an online environment, we should rely on self-regulation of members of online communities, rather than imposing sanctions on perpetrators of hate speech. In this context, the NHRCK's report on hate speech stresses the importance of establishing a self-regulatory mechanism for online platforms.

 

In 2016, the European Union formulated the Code of Conduct to prevent and counter the spread of illegal hate speech online and in accordance with the standard, tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube established internal reporting procedures for malicious comments and remove or restrict access to illegal hate speech within 24 hours.

 

The United Nations notes that hate speech, which infringes on the rights of minorities, falls outside the scope of freedom of expression, which should be protected by our society. If we remain silent about hate speech, which poses a threat to democratic values and peace and victimizes specific groups of society, that may send a wrong message that we are indifferent to prejudice against and intolerance towards minorities and even condone hateful language directed at them.

 

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea welcomes the decisions by domestic internet companies Kakao and NAVER to voluntarily regulate hateful content and it will provide unwavering support for the establishment of more systematic and concrete standards. Furthermore, the Commission hopes that the self-regulation of hate speech will lead us all to refrain from hateful comments in various spheres of society.

 

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