Freedom of expression means less if the voices are silenced. However, when it comes to the fight against extremism, hate speech and hate groups aren’t an exception. Legislators around the world are demanding a higher level of accountability from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. These are some of the platforms widely used share hate speech.
Fortunately, different countries and giant companies have been making significant progress in fighting the existence of hate groups and their activities. For instance, Germany enacted hefty fines for social media platforms that have no restrictions to curb the use of illegal and offensive speech. Besides, there is convincing evidence that stoking racial tensions on the internet was an essential part of the Russian ‘rally’ to meddle with the United States 2016 election.
Various social networks have responded to the existence of hate groups. For instance, in 2017, Twitter enforced new rules to curb the sharing of hate speech and other illegal materials. Besides, this social media channel suspended all the accounts associated with the ‘al-right’ associated.
According to a report released by Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a monitoring group based in Alabama, the number of hate groups in the United States increased by 4% in 2017. The SPLC says that there are 954 hate groups operating in the United States, an increase from 917 groups documented in 2016. Generally, the number of the hate group in the US grew by 20% since 2014.
SPLC revealed that 2017 was the third year to witness a growth of hate groups. Besides, it was the first year that hate organizations were documented in all the 50 states since 2009.
Among over 600 white supremacist groups, the popular neo-Nazi organizations increased from 99 to 121 since 2014. The number of anti-Muslim groups has been rising over the last three years. In 2016 these groups increased to 114 from 101 groups recorded in 2014.
2016 was a year that brought a significant emboldening of the racial rights. Most reporters and experts argue that the actions of President Donald Trump propelled this change. He tweeted out hate materials and probably made light of the various threats to the society posed by various active hate groups.
According to the SPLC, the growth of hate groups is a form of response to the increasing white supremacy, and that complicates the issue. SPLC also reveals that hate organizations have nothing in common with Black Lives Matter and other similar organizations fighting for minorities, civil rights, and everyone. And everyone should keep this difference in mind.
Many extremists aspire to gain national visibility online. However, the geographical distribution of hate groups in the United States shows how extreme ideologies have taken root nationwide. SPLC reveals that white nationalist groups are more than the black nationalists groups. All these groups use social media channels and other means to spread hate speech.
Fortunately, these platforms can also rally people to oppose hate speech. Before we start blaming the social networks for the existence of hate groups, we shouldn’t forget the primary of social media – to connect users around the globe.
Besides, Twitter has joined the fight against hate speech and extremism. The platform started enforcing new policies and rules to combat abusive behavior and hate speech in 2017. The crackdown led to the suspension of some accounts associated with the white nationalism. The company also said that it will start banning accounts affiliated to groups that promote or use violence against civilians to spread their agendas and further their curses. However, Twitter made it clear that government entities aren’t part of this policy.
According to Twitter, the first time a user violates the policy, he or she will be required to take down the post and be placed in a read-only mode temporarily. Subsequent violates may result in your account being on the read-only mode for an extended period or suspended permanently. Besides, Twitter is also expanding its efforts to minimize hate speech by cracking down sexist and racist messages in account graphics and bio. That means using hate group logos is prohibited on Twitter.
These efforts could go a long way in curbing the growth of hate groups and hate speech.
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