Hate speech online and on social networks was the topic of a new lesson that was organized on Tuesday, November 2, by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) for the students of the journalism department of the Moldova State University.
This time, two experts participated in the meeting with the students – Dumitru Ciorici, co-founder of Agora.md, and Ion Bambuleac, lawyer of the Non-Discrimination Coalition.
How do we identify hate speech online and on social networks? To answer this question, young people gave numerous examples of uncivilized language being used online. They agreed that hate speech spread and turned into a phenomenon with the development of the Internet and growth of the number of social networks’ users. Dumitru Ciorici explained, however, that this phenomenon can be controlled even online, where one can hide behind a pen name. According to the expert, the manner of communication depends on every person’s responsibility. Media outlets can stop this phenomenon by moderating the content so as to prevent emergence of aggressive comments or comments that call for discrimination in the virtual space. Dumitru Ciorici presented several examples of such messages and told future journalists that Agora.md has internal rules that are used as a basis for moderation of comments.
Students also learned what those who use indecent language online might expect. Media law expert Ion Bambuleac spoke to them about national and international regulations concerning hate speech. Future journalists also wanted to know if the moderation of comments containing elements of hate speech does not contradict freedom of expression. In this context, the expert explained the notion of freedom of expression and told students about cases of hate speech that got to court and how they were solved in Moldova.
Participants in the meeting learned interesting things from the two experts and asked them questions about their work. Student Eugenia Surujiu said she understood what hate speech means in the perspective of online media development and in legal perspective. In her opinion, “such activities are necessary for future journalists in order to know how to do our job and promote quality in journalism.”
Another student, Tudor Arnaut, added: “At the lesson, we learned about hate speech and freedom of expression and it is very important that we had the opportunity to learn it not from books, but from discussions with the people who have relevant experience.”
The event was organized by the IJC as part of the “Combating hate speech in online media and social networks” project, implemented with the support of Civil Rights Defenders (Sweden), IJC partner.