Cyberhate: ban and moderate!


December 27, 2010

Cyberhate: ban and moderate!

"Ukrainskaya Pravda"

The phenomenon of “cyberhate” increasingly frequently draws attention of western sociologists and media-experts.

According to OSCE data, Internet is becoming the main broadcaster of hatred on a global basis. Independent has counted that there have become 20% more web pages with damnations and assaults in blogs and social networks during the last year.

There is no point to percept the problem of cyberhate only through the prism of resistance to xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. Though they form a huge part of the hatred content, but they are far from exhausting the entire repertoire.

Cyberhate has different forms.

This is, first of all, unmotivated assaults to the address of regular users from anonymous cyber-cads. These are indecorous expressions on forums and in comments to the address of Ukrainian-speaking users from Russian-speaking ones and vice verse. This is also assaulting authors of the articles and comments.

There are also provocative materials that are making fun of religious, public, and political representatives, national and religious symbols, and the ones that assault culture, history, way of life and way of thinking of other people.

Appearance of a scandalous and not rare in its genre computer game “Operation “Galychyna” after a conflict around the island Tuzla also can be counted as cyberhate.

These are also Internet-demos in which skinhead “patriots” beat up Gastarbeiters, Asians, Caucasians, Afro-Americans and so on, as well as reciprocal actions of Internet-retaliation from militant anti-fascists. These are videos with the scenes of violence over homeless people, alcoholics, drug-addicts, prostitutes, which are accompanied by anti-human comments…

And all this is hatred:

а) expressed by the language of figurative and real violence;

b) the one that creates the object of aggression;

c) the one that provokes violence.

There is no point to try separating the notions of cyberhate and violence.

First of all, the object of many kinds of hatred is revealed through the scenes of violence.

Secondly, any hatred, in one way or other, calls for violence – ridicule, annihilation, resettlement, discrimination and so on.

Thirdly, cyberhate is traditionally a mean of a medium accompaniment of all possible force campaigns, ranting from the level of open military conflicts to the level of actions of extremist organizations. Recent events on Manezh Square in Moscow demonstrated an extremely short distance from virtual hatred to direct violence. Internet, by the way, has played anything but the last role.

The Internet itself, as a technology, is a morally neutral phenomenon and one of the key achievements of the modern culture. But…

Some users make it an ideal field for violence display.

Many facts of violence, including real and very cruel violence, were committed specially to be uploaded to the Internet afterwards – mainly just to make them open to public. If there was no Network, many facts of violence simply would never happen and occur again.

After all it’s evident, that out of the Network other mass demand on such kind of materials does not exist…

It’s enough to remember the shocking events of 2007 about a group of teenagers from Dnepropetrovsk who with the help of hammers were killing homeless people and the aged – just to capture it on video and then watch it by themselves and upload to the Network.

By the way, many people at that time could not believe that it was not a production.

Lightheartedness makes the Network an ideal field for quite a calm attitude of the users towards hatred and violence.

Let’s at least for a minute take away a habitual shroud of irony from all the notions and images and become aware of the fact that such popular in the Network social “xenonims” as hobo, Gastarbeiter, yobbo and so on – are not virtual characters, but really existing people.

Let’s also recall the real meaning of these words as well: a person who doesn’t have a place to live; a migrant worker experiencing never-ending indignity and working like a dog far away from home in order to feed his family; unaggressive and ingenious person who is not able to fight back his offenders; and so on. 

In this situation there is nothing to make fun of and there is nobody to take him down... These people, even when “non-digitized”, become victims of illegal actions really often.

Internet can be used as an ideal field for hatred cultivation.

Thanks to the Network possibilities new forms of hatred can be created, the ones that didn’t exist before the Internet was invented and the ones that do not exist out of it. Apart from this, in the Internet, and thanks to it, absolutely any phenomenon can be modeled into a subject of hatred.

The Internet is an ideal mean for broadcasting hatred: it takes years to form regulatory norms, and new network possibilities are being opened much quicker. A unique synthesis of privacy and publicity comes into being in the Internet – any material can be a personal point of view of the author, but at the same time it can have a high public status. Proposition generates demand in the Internet, it’s never vice versa, network culture initially inheres expressiveness.

The first monitoring of Ukrainian web sites held by “Institute of human rights and prevention of extremism and xenophobia” demonstrated that more than 60% of the articles and news on the leading sites contain hateful comments and provocative appeals.

About 50% of these messages belong to moral and ethic values of the addressee – simply said, this is an assault in its pure form.

19% – belong to political views, cultural-political xenophobia.

17% – belong to nationality, national indignity and kindling hatred.

7% – belong to the lifestyle of an addressee, hatred according to regional and social attribute.

And only 5% – belong to discussion of the subject of the message.

And this is with the assumption that for the analysis to be done was chosen a regular informative day without any election campaigns, conflict situations, and high profile incidents.

Herewith the Internet is not a field for permissiveness at all!

Appeals to violence and kindling hatred – doesn’t matter if in the comments of anonymous users or in the materials of the site itself – are prosecuted under law acts of crime. 

A widespread among commentators and bloggers plain kindling hatred on national, religious, and racial ground is one of the most severely punishable by law illegal acts. A person who distributed the information will have responsibility for placement of such kind of illegal content – it’s either a user himself or the owner of the site.

It doesn’t matter who is offended on the pages of an Internet-publication – this is a civil contempt. An author should have responsibility for an assault.

Each person is able to stand up for his honor and dignity by judicial means. It’s enough to file a claim against the owner of the site regarding the distribution of inveracious information. The owner of the site will have to unveil the face of the author of assaults; otherwise he will bear responsibility himself. Saving in terms of support of moderators will turn out into the increase of additional expenses for lawyers.

I’m saying all these not to descreditate Internet or “cast a shadow” on the global palladium of liberty of speech. I’m saying it so that the owners and editors of the sites, journalists, administrators of social networks and just creative people would realize their responsibility.

There is no need to fight against the philosophy of free distribution of information – I’m sure that it will live out both “the fighters” and the Internet itself in its current state. There is also no need to fight against hatred itself – this emotional state is as old as the mankind. It’s necessary to fight against specific displays of cyberhate.

It’s enough to just moderate and delete a provocative content, ban inadequate users, delete the profiles of extremists and cyber-provokers.

If the employees of network media don’t allow strangers to shit in their office and from time to time tidy up their working place, so what’s wrong with doing the same with byproducts of virtual activity on one’s own sites?!

P.S. As conclusion, l cannot but touch upon a question regarding the fact if the words “sheeny”, “hohol”, “katsap”, “gook” and other often used expressive ethnonyms are assaults. And whether they should be subjects of censorship and restriction.

External influence on the style of vocabulary is a kill-time without any doubt. Every person has a right to decide himself which language to use and how to represent himself to others. It’s impossible to convince a person to speak correctly if the person is used to use dirty words talking to his parents and children. And sound people understand that every label-ethnonym has its origin, emotional tonality, level of injuriousness…

The language is a “house of Being”, what the language is like the same is Being…

If somebody wants to seem or be a fringe, he has an absolute freedom for this. Finally, there should be toilets even in the theatres. The main thing is to remember that it’s not accepted to stay on for a long time and shake hands in latrines …