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Facebook is under fire from gay and transgender users who are being forced to use real names

There have been multiple reports that Facebook is forcing gay and transgender users to use their legal names instead of their online personas or chosen names, as part of a crackdown on pseudonyms, despite the danger this poses to some users

12/9/2014- Not that long ago, it looked as though Facebook might be softening its previous stance on real names, with comments from CEO Mark Zuckerberg that suggested he saw the value of anonymity in some cases — and at the same time, the social network has expanded the number of gender-related selections users have to choose from. Despite those moves, however, some gay and transgender users say the site is forcing them to use their birth names or have their pages blocked. According to the website Queerty, the network  has been ordering gay users who registered using their drag personas to either set up a fan page or change to their legal name, and has been asking them to send copies of birth certificates and driver’s licenses to verify their identity. Queerty said it was alerted to the crackdown by Sister Roma, the drag persona of a gay man named Michael Williams, who has been forced to change his account to his given name.

What’s odd about the move is that Facebook put together a significant PR campaign earlier this year to promote the fact that it had changed the gender-related menu choices for users, offering more than 50 options for the gay and transgendered — something it said was done after much consultation with gay and transgender advocates. In one article, a trans Facebook engineer named Brielle Harrison even talked about how important this option was for people like herself. Taylor Hatmaker at The Daily Dot says reports have been emerging from a number of gay communities that other users who registered under drag personas like Sister Roma are also being forced to change their names or risk losing their pages. Although setting up a fan page is an option, Hatmaker — who is gay — points out that this isn’t appropriate for many users, and that forcing them to do so or risk being shut out of Facebook altogether is unfair:
Presumably, Facebook wants to shoehorn these personal identities into Pages, like the ones brands and celebrities use. But for queer users more interested in keeping up with friends and building community than collecting followers, it’s an extremely poor fit. Facebook is making an implicit judgment call here, operating off of the hunch that an account in question is not the “true” identity of the user, which is an inappropriate position to begin with.

As Hatmaker and others like ZDNet columnist Violet Blue have noted, pseudonymity is not just a convenience for many gay and transgender users, but is something they are in many cases compelled to use because of threats of violence, or because revealing their identity could put their jobs at risk. Forcing them to use legal names essentially means forcing them not to use Facebook. As Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out during a discussion of the topic on Twitter, the action against Sister Roma and others may not be a sign that Facebook is actively targeting gay men or drag queens, but could be a result of complaints from those who do want to target those individuals, which Facebook then has to pursue. In any case, she says, the policy is unwise. Facebook and Google+ were both involved in a “real names” crackdown several years ago, saying their networks were designed for real identities and that pseudonyms made bad behavior more likely to occur. Google has since given up on its real-name policy for Google+, but it seems Facebook is still pursuing that goal — even though it may drive some users away.
© Gigaom


Canada: 'People of Winnipeg' Facebook page outlet for racism, says activist

Page littered with racial slurs, makes fun of people who are disabled or different

8/9/2014- A Facebook page that makes fun of Winnipeggers with photos has outraged several people, including a local activist that works with the homeless, but the page's administrator is adamant about keeping it running. The "People of Winnipeg" page has more than 17,000 members and contains posts that range from mocking people with disabilities to making racial slurs about multiple ethnic groups. Many of the images posted on the page show people passed out on the street and worse. "People [are] making fun of the homeless and the drunk people and just disgusting pictures that are developing," Althea Guiboche, who hands out food to the city's homeless every week, told CBC News on Monday. "I can't stand for that. I can't even believe Winnipeg people are taking part in that."

The page's administrator, Ricky Paskie, said he and the other people behind "People of Winnipeg" do their best to take down anything that could be deemed offensive, but with more than 200 posts a day that can be difficult. "If we do find that it's racist or indecent for people, it will be deleted," Paskie said. "That's not our goal … to make fun of anyone [who is] mentally ill, homeless." But Paskie noted that there are also plenty of posts that are positive about the city. "Our intent [is] just to show the funny things and the things you see in Winnipeg … whether it's someone dancing at the bus stop or a guy wearing a gorilla suit," he said.

'It's not right'
Britt James said she was mocked by people on the "People of Winnipeg" page after someone uploaded a photograph of her and another woman inside a medical clinic. "All I could think of was, 'How could you take a photo of somebody in a medical clinic?' You know, how is this even funny?" she said. "To have people you don't know publicly make fun of you, it's not right." James said the page's administrators initially would not remove the photo, and Facebook told her the image did not breach any of its terms. She said she took matters into her own hands by contacting the original poster's workplace and threatening legal action. The photo has since been removed, but James said the damage has already been done. "The majority of things, if you actually look on there, are hurtful, they're spiteful, they're rude. It's harassing, it's bullying," she said. Representatives from Facebook did not return calls seeking comment.

Facebook user responds
Jesse James, who has been a part of the Facebook group for more than a year, wrote a response to critics of the page saying, "This group is about posting pictures of people who are out in public doing crazy things that may seem very unrealistic but are very real. "The group is about finding the funny moments that are right in front of us every day because we live in a crazy city. This group is not here for people to be racist." But Britt James said she wants the Facebook page removed or completely overhauled. She plans to meet with a lawyer. Guiboche, also known as the Bannock Lady, said she has been personally attacked on the Facebook page for speaking out against it, but she believes the page does not have to be shut down as long as it stops being a forum for racism and hurting the homeless. "It just goes to further dehumanize them," she said. "We don't need them publicly parading our homeless around for public comments. Why don't they just step up and help them instead?"
© CBC News


Fighting racism " one keystroke at a time (opinion)

By Denise Oliver Velez

7/9/2014- How many times have you clicked on a news article or a blog piece, or watched a YouTube, only to find that the comments section attached to it is a slime pit of some of the most vile racist comments imaginable? Too often, your response may be like mine has been at times—you shrug and decide, "I don't read comments." You click away, and move on to the next story, web page or video. You don't have to deal with the racism, because it's no longer on your screen. Back in December 2012, I wrote a post, Ending racism—one person at a time. Contrary to recent opinions I've read, as a black person in the United States, I don't think racism has gotten worse, nor do I believe we are "post-racial."

What I do believe is that the relative anonymity of the internet has allowed many people to express their racism openly, rather than behaving one way in public spaces where someone from the group they hate may be present. Now they can give full rein to thoughts that might garner them public censure or worse if this crap was said face-to-face. The fact that elected officials, and the Teapublican Party touts its racism openly, with little or no pushback from its membership and only hypocritical "nopologies" when busted, has given license to "racists run wild" in cyberspace. Follow me below the fold for more.

Very few of the major traditional online news media sites have good comment moderation . The New Times is probably better at moderation than most, and the most egregious spew never makes it through the waiting period there for posting. Sometimes things do slip through though, but it is fairly easy to flag garbage, and the response, in my experience, is swift.

Recently while reading a Times piece on Michael Brown's murder and the ensuing events in Ferguson, I saw a comment, recommended by readers, that fit into the "but … but … but … Mike Brown was a thug" genre of post. It was a repost of a vile email and post making its way through racist networks that purported to show an arrest record for a Michael Brown. The problem is that the Michael Brown with the record was not the same Michael Brown whose life was cut short by Officer Darren Wilson. This is not to say that it makes one whit of difference if the deceased Michael Brown had or didn't have an arrest history—nothing in a person's background should excuse being executed. I'd already seen a debunking here on Daily Kos, and did some checking on my own. Weeks later, Michael Brown's lack of a record is now in the news and yet the smear campaign continues. When I read that story, and saw a recommended reader comment citing the false email, I flagged it, and when I checked back about an hour later it had disappeared. One small victory in a sea of cyber-hate.

The phenomena of cyber-racism is an area that is currently being explored in academia. The book, Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and the New Attack on Civil Rights by Jessie Daniels, is a good place to start learning more:
In this exploration of the way racism is translated froCyber m the print-only era to the cyber era the author takes the reader through a devastatingly informative tour of white supremacy online. The book examines how white supremacist organizations have translated their printed publications onto the Internet. Included are examples of open as well as 'cloaked' sites which disguise white supremacy sources as legitimate civil rights websites. Interviews with a small sample of teenagers as they surf the web show how they encounter cloaked sites and attempt to make sense of them, mostly unsuccessfully. The result is a first-rate analysis of cyber racism within the global information age. The author debunks the common assumptions that the Internet is either an inherently democratizing technology or an effective 'recruiting' tool for white supremacists. The book concludes with a nuanced, challenging analysis that urges readers to rethink conventional ways of knowing about racial equality, civil rights, and the Internet.

In her book, Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and the New Attack on Civil Rights, Jessie Daniels discusses the common misconceptions about white supremacy online; it’s lurking threats to today’s youth; and possible solutions on navigating through the Internet, a large space where so much information is easily accessible (including hate-speech and other offensive content). Daniels claims that although no one can say for sure how many white supremacy sites there are on the internet, the number is definitely rising (especially after Barack Obama’s election in 2008), and a majority of them are fueled by people in the USA.

A review from the blog and website for the African and African American Studies course, "Exploring Race and Community in the Digital World," taught by Carla D. Martin, states:
Daniels lays out three threats that white supremacists pose online to the the world:
Threat 1: Internet provides easy access—she coins the term “globalization”—and hence, perpetuates ”translocal whiteness”: a white identity that is not bound by geography.
Threat 2: Some white supremacist sites, that subject minorities to the “white racial frame,” motivate danger and violence in real life.
Threat 3: Through the nature of its medium, the Internet tends to equalize all sites, rendering what used to be intensely personal and political views in the 1960’s into a modern-day matter of personal preference.

Some of you may know Professor Daniels' work from the blog, RacismReview, which she co-founded with sociologist Joe Feagin.

Hate speech on the internet has become an issue of global concern, addressed by the United Nations, and groups like the International Network Against Cyber Hate, which is sponsoring a conference in Belgium in October. While I've focused on online racism in this post, the same problem exists for sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ethnocentrism, antisemitism, anti-Islam, anti-immigration, and all the other "isms" and haters. No one person alone can counteract the tidal wave of hate that swamps many websites. But each individual can help stem the flood. I frequently read grumbles here at Daily Kos about the moderation system. Frankly, at a site that gets an enormous amount of hits daily and thousands of comments, the incidents of racism that get a free pass here are minimal in comparison to other major sites. Trolls who make an account simply to spew are swiftly ban-hammered. The racist remarks from people who have a longer tenure here (yes they occur—no community, no matter how progressive, is immune to racism) are also fought against and hidden, and repeat offenders usually find themselves no longer welcome here. Does that mean we can't do better? No.

I believe that there are "more of us" than of them (the haters) but I also think that many of us have found it too easy not to push back, having determined that it is a thankless and/or futile task. Black Panther Party Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver once said, "You're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem." I agree with Eldridge. Since I'm on the net every day, searching for news sources for articles and for material to use in my classes, I've set myself a daily quota of pushback. I do about 10 per day (not counting efforts here at Daily Kos). It doesn't take up a lot of my surfing/reading time. I don't really participate much in Facebook or Twitter, other than to push a "post" button from here, but there are news outlets with comments sections I do use frequently. I also use video a lot, both here and for school. As disgusting as comments are on YouTube, they are pretty easy to flag, and to vote down.

"A few keystrokes a day can drive racism away" is my new motto.

Try it.
© The Daily Kos


Study: Hate Posts on Social Media Cause Real Harm

by Kilian Melloy

4/9/2014- If you're familiar with a feeling of helpless rage and frustration at vile anti-gay postings at Facebook, reader comments sections of online news outlets, and discussion threads around the Internet, you know what it's like: It feels like the sheer hate from venom-filled comments hurled across the digital medium leaves you sore and bruised. It feels, in other words, not so different from a physical attack. It turns out that sense of harm isn't just imaginary. A new study indicates that minorities of all sorts -- including racial and sexual minorities -- suffer measurable harm when subjected to hate speech in social media.

The study is the work of researchers at Sapienza University of Rome and the Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg, a Sept. 3 posting at The Advocate reported. The study, titled "Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being," purports to "test [its] hypothesis on a representative sample of the Italian population," and finds a "significantly negative correlation between online networking and well-being." The study concludes that GLBTs and other minority individuals experience "anxiety, distress, and deterioration in trust" when exposed to hate speech in threads and posts online.

It's not just the case that members of minority groups are faced with hateful messages left for a general readership by bigots; just as bad, or worse, are the effects of minorities who speak up online and are targeted for hate speech. The researchers noted a tendency for the remove of cyber-speech to strip away the veil of civility, with hate messages taking on particularly virulence. "In online interactions, dealing with strangers who advance opposite views in an aggressive and insulting way seems to be a widespread practice, whatever the topic of discussion is," The Advocate quoted the report as saying.

The phenomenon of social media serving as a platform for anti-gay bullying among students has played a central role in the narrative about how GLBT youth suffer. But anti-gay animus affects adults, too. Furthermore, it's not necessary for sexual minorities to encounter undisguised hate speech online for their health to suffer; previous studies have uncovered evidence to suggest that simply living in an environment where one's legal status is called into question, such as states where marriage rights have been put to a popular vote via ballot initiatives, burdens GLBT individuals with higher levels of stress and anxiety.

But even in absence of such an animosity-charged political climate, low-level and pervasive anti-gay stigma can have similar effects. In 2011, a study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law concluded that "stigma and social inequality can increase stress and reduce well-being for LGB people, even in the absence of major traumatic events such as hate crimes and discrimination."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.
© Edge on the Net


UK: Antisemitic incidents reach record level in July 2014

4/9/2014- Antisemitic reactions to this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas resulted in record levels of antisemitic hate incidents in the UK, according to new figures released by CST today. CST recorded 302 antisemitic incidents in July 2014, a rise of over 400% from the 59 incidents recorded in July 2013 and only slightly fewer than the 304 antisemitic incidents recorded in the entire first six months of 2014. A further 111 reports were received by CST during July but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total. CST has recorded antisemitic incidents in the UK since 1984.

The 302 antisemitic incidents recorded in July 2014 is the highest ever monthly total recorded by CST. The previous record high of 289 incidents in January 2009 coincided with a previous period of conflict between Israel and Hamas. CST also recorded at least 150 antisemitic incidents in August 2014, making it the third-highest monthly total on record. The totals for July and August are expected to rise further as more incident reports reach CST. 155 of the 302 incidents recorded in July (51%) involved direct reference to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza. All incidents require evidence of antisemitic language, targeting or motivation alongside any anti-Israel sentiment to be recorded by CST as an antisemitic incident.

101 antisemitic incidents recorded in July involved the use of language or imagery relating to the Holocaust, of which 25 showed evidence of far right political motivation or beliefs. More commonly, reference to Hitler or the Holocaust was used to taunt or offend Jews, often in relation to events in Israel and Gaza, such as via the twitter hashtag #HitlerWasRight. 76 of the 302 incidents in July (25%) took place on social media. CST obtained a description of the offender for 107 of the 302 antisemitic incidents recorded during July 2014. Of these, 55 offenders (51%) were described as being of south Asian appearance; 32 (30%) were described as white; 15 (14%) were described as being of Arab or north African appearance; and 5 (5%) were described as black.

There were 21 violent antisemitic assaults recorded by CST, none of which were classified as ‘Extreme Violence’, which would involve a threat to life or grievous bodily harm (GBH). None of the 21 assaults resulted in serious injury. There were 17 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property; 218 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, which includes verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 33 direct antisemitic threats; and 13 cases of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails. CST recorded 179 antisemitic incidents in Greater London in July 2014, compared to 144 during the whole of the first half of 2014. There were 52 antisemitic incidents recorded in Greater Manchester, compared to 96 in the first six months of the year. 71 incidents were recorded in other locations around the UK during July.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said:
These statistics speak for themselves: a record number of antisemitic incidents, few of them violent, but involving widespread abuse and threats to Jewish organisations, Jews in public places and on social media. It helps to explain the pressures felt by so many British Jews this summer, with its combination of anti-Jewish hatred and anti-Israel hatred. The high proportion of offenders who appear to come from sections of the Muslim community is of significant concern, raising fears that the kind of violent antisemitism suffered by French Jews in recent years may yet be repeated here in the UK. CST will continue working with Police and Government against antisemitism, but we need the support of others. Opposing antisemitism takes actions not words. It is particularly damaging for public figures, be they politicians, journalists or faith leaders, to feed these hatreds by comparing Israel to Nazi Germany or by encouraging extreme forms of public protest and intimidation. Prosecutors also have their part to play. Those who have used social media to spread antisemitism are identifiable and should be prosecuted.
© CST Blog


Dutch security service broke privacy rules with web forum hacks

4/9/2014- The Dutch security service AIVD has broken privacy laws in its research into social media and wrongly hacked into website forums to gather information on all users, regulators said on Thursday. The report by the security service regulator CTIVD says five hacking operations were not properly motivated and were therefore unlawful. The hacks were carried out on behalf of foreign security agencies, the NRC reported. In four other investigations, privacy regulations were broken disproportionately, the CTIVD said.

These were large general web forums without a radical or extremist tint. and the privacy of a large number of ordinary citizens was wrongly invaded. The CTIVD did not mention any forums by name but the NRC cited website as a possible example. At the time the NRC first reported on the scandal, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk said the hacking was within the law. In a reaction to the findings, Plasterk said he had instructed the AIVD to tighten up its procedures but stressed research into websites is necessary to allow the security service to do its job properly.

CTIVD39Toezichtsrapportsocialemedia.pdf (543,04 KB) (PDF full report in Dutch)

© The Dutch News

Ireland: Longer sentences for hate crimes proposed in report

New laws urgently needed to protect vulnerable communities, Limerick academics conclude

2/9/2014- Ireland urgently needs new laws to protect vulnerable communities from hate crime, according to a report being launched today by University of Limerick experts. The study proposes the creation of new offences and the passing of longer sentences for assault, harassment, criminal damage and public order crimes motivated by hostility, bias, prejudice or hatred. “The absence of hate crime legislation in Ireland is a glaring anomaly in the European context, and indeed across the West,” the report states. “Without it, Ireland stands virtually alone in its silence with respect to protecting vulnerable communities from the harms of this particular form of violence.”

Labour Senator and legal academic Ivana Bacik, who will launch the Life Free From Fear report today, said the study showed hate crime was a “very real phenomenon in Ireland today”. The academic experts surveyed 14 non-governmental organisations which advocate for various groups of people including those with disabilities; ethnic minorities; religious minorities; the LGBT community and prisoners. Along with sexual and verbal abuse, they reported instances of physical violence and harassment, while negative use of the internet was also highlighted.

The report proposes fresh legislation to create four new offences all aggravated by hostility: assault, harassment, criminal damage and public order. Alongside the new offences, the introduction of a sentence enhancement provision is recommended under which hostility, bias, prejudice or hatred would be treated as aggravating factors in sentencing. “We propose that legislation be introduced as a matter of urgency,” the report states. The study also recommends amending the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 to cover cases of sexual offences against disabled people.

It says Ireland should deal with the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems by signing and ratifying the additional protocol to the convention on cybercrime. Ms Bacik said people in Ireland were targeted because of characteristics including sexual orientation, race, religion, disability and age. “The report shows that the current legal regime is incapable of addressing hate crime, and that legislative change is required. Crucially, the report also presents useful proposals for the appropriate legislative model, and this is particularly welcome,” she said.

The report acknowledges the difficulty in identifying specific communities that are potential victims of hate crimes. However, among the groups the report names as having historically been targets of abuse and discrimination in Ireland are the Traveller community; single mothers; non-Catholics and members of the LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) community. More recently, the report suggests, the categories of race, national origin, trans people and ethnic origin could be included. “The authors would regard this list as still incomplete however,” the report states.

The authors of the report are Jennifer Schweppe of the School of Law and Dr Amanda Hynes and Dr James Carr of the Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick. They are members of the Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG), which was set up by academics in the University of Limerick with the aim of initiating scholarship in the area in Ireland.
© The Irish Times


Headlines August 2014

Austria: Teenager sentenced for running Nazi chat forum

Salzburg Regional Court has sentenced an 18-year-old youth to 12 months for operating a right-wing internet forum, under the Prohibition Act Section 3g.

22/8/2014- He must serve one month of his sentence behind bars, and cannot appeal. The 18-year-old has also been told he will be on probation and will have to undergo psychotherapy, as well as finishing college. He was also convicted of assault and serious commercial fraud. According to the prosecution the youth had been running a right-wing extremist forum on Skype, which he called "National Resistance and true National Socialists". He shared numerous videos and audio files which portrayed National Socialism in a positive light. In addition, together with a 20-year-old, he sprayed “Jews out” and a swastika on a glass pane of a local primary school. He was also charged with using the chat forum for fraudulent purposes. He offered Nazi paraphernalia such as badges and coats of arms for sale, although he didn’t actually possess any such items. One person paid him €25. The Prohibition Act of 1947 contains a number of provisions to combat the resurgence of National Socialist activities.
© The Local - Austria


Azerbaijani-Armenian Media Wage Virtual War

Heightened tensions lead to online battles, disinformation and website takedowns.
By Gohar Abrahamyan - Caucasus

21/8/2014- The recent spike in violence around Nagorny Karabakh has been accompanied by an upsurge in information warfare as hackers attack websites in both Armenia and Azerbaijan and news outlets are recruited to spread disinformation. The web attacks came as localised clashes – and casualties – increased on the front line around Armenian-controlled Karabakh and on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Both sides have expressed concern about breaches of the 1994 ceasefire that ended the Karabakh war but has never led to a formal peace deal. (See Azeri-Armenian Conflict Fears as Death Toll Rises.)

“From July 27, when it was already clear that the situation was evolving further and that there was a chance of war, it appears that the media changed and went to war,” said Laura Baghdasaryan, director of the Region think tank in Yerevan. “All other issues faded into the background, and everyone discussed what was happening on the border.” Edgar Chraghyan of Cyber Gates, an internet security company in Armenia, told IWPR that says that hackers in Azerbaijan disabled 15 Armenian websites over a period of two weeks. Armenians took down 13 sites in Azerbaijan, he added.

In one attack, on the Russian-language section of the news site, Azerbaijan hackers replaced an August 2 interview with Senor Hasratyan, a spokesman for the Karabakh defence ministry, with a press release purporting to be from the Armenian defence ministry. Hasratyan’s statement that his forces were in full control of Karabakh’s airspace were removed and in its place there appeared a fictitious news story of an artillery bombardment said to have killed 20 Armenian soldiers and injured 26. In fact, one died and one other was injured. The website published a correction within minutes, but Azerbaijani news outlets had already picked up the fake report, and subsequently interpreted its removal as evidence of Armenian censorship.

David Alaverdyan, editor of the Mediamax news agency and a journalism lecturer at Yerevan State University, said the key aim for a government fighting an information war was to ensure that its point of view drowned out all opposing opinions. He said that within Armenia, the defence ministry had more or less achieved that goal, and that its Azerbaijani counterpart, too, had been successful in dominating the narrative in that country. To illustrate the point, Alaverdyan cited the case of an Armenian national who died after crossing the border into Azerbaijan. At first, Azerbaijan described the man as a civilian, but then changed tack and followed the defence ministry’s lead, calling him a saboteur.

A number of websites aimed at Armenians but backed by Azerbaijan published reports of the death of Armenian troops that turned out to be false. Given the source, most Armenians would realise this was propaganda, but they are more liable to believe stories that appear in the Russian media. On August 12, when tensions had somewhat subsided following a meeting between Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, chaired by President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, the Russian website ran a story claiming that Azerbaijan planned to “buy” Karabakh for five billion US dollars. “This is clear sabotage by Russian media,” said Baghdasaryan. “The article did not carry the usual byline, and just said it was by ‘politrus’. [Azerbaijani website] then reprinted the article, and it spread.”

On August 2, the Russian news agency Regnum published a story claiming that Azerbaijani armoured vehicles were advancing along the whole front line, and carried three photographs showing dozens of tanks. Many Armenians panicked, believing the photographs were of tanks actually deployed in the field, whereas in fact they were taken last year when Russia delivered a shipment of armoured vehicles to Baku. Samvel Martirosyan, who lectures on blogging and new media at Yerevan State University, says Armenian journalists have grown increasingly careful about sifting fact from fiction. “An interesting thing has happened to the Armenian media, which are normally very poor at checking information. They have always happily accepted disinformation spread by Azerbaijan. But this time they have orientated themselves very quickly, and most of the media have been very careful about spreading information,” he said.
Gohar Abrahamyan is a correspondent for in Armenia.
© Institute for War & Peace Reporting


UK: Police officers investigated for social media breaches

Hundreds of police officers have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines, research has revealed.

19/8/2014- Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association found officers made racist comments online and asked crime victims to become Facebook friends. Of 828 cases in England and Wales from 2009 to February this year, 9% ended in resignation, dismissal or retirement. The College of Policing said there was "no place... for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public". About a seventh (14%) of the cases reported resulted in no further action at all. The majority of other cases were dealt with through advice being offered to the officer in question. Various forces also said staff were investigated for comments deemed homophobic, racist or "religiously aggressive".

Greater Manchester Police reported the most investigations, with 88 over the period in question. West Midlands was second highest with 74, while the Metropolitan Police recorded 69. Chief Constable Alex Marshall, chief executive of the College of Policing, said: "People working in policing must always be mindful of the high standards that the public expect from us. "Our code of ethics, which was launched last month, sets out the standards which everyone in the service should strive to uphold whether at work or away from work, online or offline." He said most police officers and staff "uphold these high standards" and that social media can be a "really useful way of us talking to the people that we serve". But he added: "There is no place in policing for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public." "Everyone in policing has to remember that if you're not prepared to put it in a local newspaper with your name at the bottom, then don't say it on social media."

'Incredibly useful'
The college's code of ethics urges officers to "use social media responsibly and safely". It also suggests they "ensure that nothing you publish online can reasonably be perceived by the public or your policing colleagues to be discriminatory, abusive, oppressive, harassing, bullying, victimising, offensive or otherwise incompatible with policing principles". And it also says officers should not publish online or elsewhere, or offer for publication, any material that might undermine their own reputation or that of the policing profession. Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Social media is an incredibly useful tool for engaging with local communities and gathering intelligence. "Forces must ensure officers are effectively trained and aware of the latest social media protocols. "It is important to acknowledge that the majority of police officers perform their duties with the utmost integrity, discretion and in accordance with the high standards of behaviour rightly expected of them by the public."

Examples of cases uncovered
@ A community support officer with Devon and Cornwall Police who received a final written warning after posing with weapons on Facebook
@ A sergeant with the same force who was given a written warning after making remarks about senior officers on the site
@ A civilian officer in central London who posted a comment online about Muslims in London failing to observe a two-minute silence
@ Two special constables who had to resign from Northamptonshire Police after they were pictured on a website in a "compromising position"
@ A Gwent Police officer who was given a written warning after he "inappropriately" asked a female member of the public to be his friend on Facebook during a house visit
@ Another PC from the force who received the same punishment for using Facebook to send an "abusive" message to a member of the public
@ A member of civilian staff in Lancashire who resigned over their "excessive and inappropriate use of the internet during working hours" - including online auction sites, internet banking and social networking
© BBC News


Google Is Planning to Offer Accounts to Kids Under 13

18/8/2014- Google plans to offer accounts to children under 13 years old for the first time, a move that will take the world’s largest Internet search provider into a controversial and operationally complex new market. Accounts on Google services such as Gmail and YouTube are not officially offered to children, though there is little to stop them from logging on anonymously or posing as adults to sign up for accounts. Now Google is trying to establish a new system that lets parents set up accounts for their kids, control how they use Google services and what information is collected about their offspring, according to a person familiar with the effort. Earlier this year, Google was developing a child version of its online video site YouTube suited to tablet computers that would let parents control content, another person familiar with the company’s plans said.

Google and most other Internet companies tread carefully because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. The law imposes strict limits on how information about children under 13 is collected; it requires parents’ consent and tightly controls how that data can be used for advertising. (Companies are not liable if customers lie to them about user ages). The company’s new effort is partly driven by the fact that some parents are already trying to sign their kids up to the company’s services. Google wants to make the process easier and compliant with the rules, the person said. Technology news website The Information reported the company’s plans earlier on Monday.

News of Google’s changes in this area has already caused concern among privacy advocates. “Unless Google does this right it will threaten the privacy of millions of children and deny parents the ability to make meaningful decisions about who can collect information on their kids,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, an online privacy group. Chester said The Center for Digital Democracy shared its concerns on Monday about Google’s new effort with the Federal Trade Commission, which writes COPPA rules and enforces them with state regulators. The privacy group is also huddling with its legal team on Wednesday to create an action plan to monitor how Google rolls out its services for children and to make sure the system provides parents enough control over the privacy of their kids’ information, Mr. Chester added. FTC spokesman Jay Mayfield declined to comment, saying the agency does not comment on specific companies’ plans.
© The Wall Street Journal - Digits blog


As online anti-Semitism grows, so do efforts to counter it

15/8/2014- It’s been 17 years since Suzette Bronkhorst co-founded the Dutch Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet, but she said she doesn’t remember the level of anti-Semitic speech on social media platforms ever being this high. “There are thousands of incidents and we’re getting so many complaints,” she said of her organization, which registers complaints of hate speech online. “There’s been a huge surge since Gaza.” The Gaza conflict, which has led to the deaths of 1,900 Palestinians and 68 Israelis, has also sparked a wave of counter speech, with organizations like Bronkhorst’s attempting to tackle hate speech by debunking myths and stereotypes on blogs, forums and social media. “There’s a lot of chatter on the Internet that is not based on fact and there are different ways in which you can do counter speech,” said Bronkhorst, whose organization goes by the name MDI. “For instance, if there’s a discussion on Facebook, you join in and you try to give counterpoints to people who are just ill-informed.”

In one instance, Bronkhorst’s volunteers asked a Twitter user writing “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” whether he really wanted to murder people by gassing them. The user removed the tweet, apologized and said he didn’t mean it. In July, the number of Dutch-language anti-Semitic Facebook pages ran into the hundreds, according to MDI, which cannot keep up with the amount of hate-fueled posts, ranging from statements such as “Jews must die” to those praising Adolf Hitler. On Twitter, the hashtag “Hitler was right” appeared more than 10,000 times in July in connection with Gaza and became a trending topic, says MDI.

Sergey Lagodinsky, a lawyer and a member of the Jewish community’s representative assembly in Berlin, said comments by friends on Facebook shocked him. “It’s hardly tolerable because people are being attacked,” said Lagodinsky. “You have a lot of people who you thought were friends who articulate things in a way which leaves you speechless.” Berlin’s Technical University has just started a project analyzing around 100,000 Internet texts to see how anti-Semitism spreads online on social media and in comment sections, chatrooms and forums. “The Internet plays an important role here as more drastic use of language can flourish through links between websites as well as user anonymity,” said Matthias Jakob Becker, a member of the research team. The team has found that not only Islamist and right-wing circles have resorted to old canards, such as Jewish world-domination conspiracy theories, but so, too, has the educated middle class.

Anti-Semitism is a particularly sensitive issue in Germany. Special police protection is provided for Jewish buildings, ranging from synagogues to bakeries, and the growing anti-Jewish sentiment even prompted the country’s biggest newspaper, Bild, to wade into the fray. On its website, the newspaper created a button depicting a Star of David and the slogan “stimme erheben: nie wieder Judenhass” (raise your voice: never again Jew hatred) that people could share online. It has also added interviews with celebrities, politicians and ordinary people speaking out against anti-Semitism. Bild encouraged readers to tweet against anti-Semitism under the hashtag “stimme erheben.” While the campaign ran for just one day, Tobias Froehlich, a representative for Axel Springer, Bild’s owner, said the publication may follow up with similar campaigns. “You can still find it online and of course, depending on how the news develops, you could see it again in our newspaper,” said Froehlich. “The voice against anti-Semitism isn’t just for one day.”

Members of Germany’s Jewish community said the Bild campaign is a reminder that Jews in Europe are generally safe and that while anti-Semitism is a reality, it’s mainly kept in check. “The online world is a tool of propaganda for hate speech against everyone,” said 29-year-old Giulia Pines Kersthold, a Jewish New Yorker and author who has lived in Berlin for six years. But she added: “I have never really felt unsafe as a Jew in Germany and I would say that I still don’t.”

In France, where pro-Palestinian demonstrations in July culminated in attacks on eight synagogues, many Jews are fleeing to Israel. Between January and June, 2,830 French Jews emigrated to Israel. That number is expected to exceed 5,000 by the end of 2014 — marking the first time in modern history that a full 1 percent of a western Jewish community will move to Israel in a single year, according to the Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency for Israel. In 2013, 3,288 French Jews left for Israel. Yonathan Arfi, vice president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, called the anti-Semitic surge a new phenomenon that has intensified thanks to the Internet. “It is a space without laws,” he said. “You have many people on the Internet who are Jewish and easily accessible to people who target them.”

Bronkhorst at MDI acknowledges the difficulties but is optimistic and hopes the project will expand to other organizations in the International Network Against Cyber Hate, of which MDI is a member. “It’s a matter of resources right now,” said Bronkhorst. “We’re going to do it and we can only do it if we all work together to change our neighbor and let our neighbor change another one — one drop at a time to make an ocean.”
© The Washington Post


Trisha Prabhu wants to put an end to cyberbullying

13/8/2014- 13-year-old Mighty Girl Trisha Prabhu wants to put an end to cyberbullying so she decided to investigate an important question: would teens still post hurtful content online if they had to think about how it would affect others first? To answer this question, the young Chicagoan -- who has now made it to the finalist round of the 2014 Google Science Fair -- designed a software system that measures the number of mean or hurtful messages that adolescents were willing to post after being encouraged to "rethink" the impact of their messages. Trisha's study found that such re-thinking resulted in a tremendous 93% reduction in the number of hurtful messages posted.

Trisha’s idea emerged from research on adolescent brain function: in teens, the pre-frontal cortex, which is partially responsible for helping people think before acting, is not yet fully developed. As a result, teens are more likely than adults to act impulsively and post messages without thinking through the consequences. Trisha hypothesized that teens provided with an alert mechanism encouraging them to rethink the potential harm that their message could cause would post fewer hurtful or mean messages.

To test her hypothesis, Trisha designed two software programs: Baseline and Rethink. Each member of her test group, 150 boys and 150 girls between age 12 and 18, were presented with five different messages based on real-life examples from a cyberbullying research agency. She found that the Baseline group was willing to post 67.2% of the hurtful messages they viewed. In the Rethink group, the initial willingness to post was 71.07%; however, after viewing the prompt encouraging them to reconsider the message, only 6.57% went ahead with the post.

Based on these dramatic results, Trisha believes that if a system like the one she designed was integrated into social media sites and apps there would be a significant reduction in cyberbullying. She's now one of 15 global finalists in the 2014 Google Science Fair but whether or not she wins, Trisha plans on continuing the development of her software and has already put together a preliminary design demonstrating how the "Rethink" system could integrate with social media sites. She hopes that one day her system will help prevent cyberbullying at the "source" and, as she writes in her science fair report, is "looking forward to a future where we have conquered cyber-bullying!” Kudos to Trisha for her efforts to end cyberbullying and best of luck in the Google Science Fair!
To read more about Trisha's project, visit the Google Science Fair site at

For two helpful resources for youth about responsible technology use and cyberbullying, check out “lol...OMG!: What Every Student Needs to Know About Online Reputation Management, Digital Citizenship, and Cyberbullying” for ages 12 and up ( and "A Smart Girl's Guide to the Internet" for ages 9 to 12 ( There are also several helpful resources for parents on the growing problem of cyberbullying: "Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age" ( and "The Parent's Guide To Texting, Facebook, And Social Media: Understanding the Benefits and Dangers of Parenting in a Digital World" at

For a variety of books for kids and parents that address bullying of all types, we released a three-part blog series on bullying prevention. In the first part of the series, we showcase books for preschool and early elementary-aged children on teaching empathy and responding to bullying: "The End of Bullying Begins With Me": Bullying Prevention Books for Young Mighty Girls," at In the second post, we feature recommendations for tweens and tweens: "Taking a Stand Against Bullying: Bullying Prevention Books for Tweens and Teens" at

And, in our final post, we share resources for parents and educators to help them better understand childhood bullying and learn how best to respond to it: "Leading the Way: Bullying Prevention Books for Parents and Educators," at
© Facebook - A Mighty Girl


Slovak media closing online discussions due to hatred and racism

13/8/2014- The Slovak media are starting to run out of patience with readers who inundate the discussion boards beneath their online articles with hatred, lies and racism. Two popular news servers, and, have changed the format of their discussion boards in recent days. The main tool is not to post open discussions beneath articles on specific topics, but moderated discussions where every contribution is checked by a moderator before being published. started its changes at the start of August and began turning off its discussion boards yesterday; both servers had already instituted the requirement that discussants register to participate.

No more aggressive, lying, racist contributions
The editors of say their reason for the move is simple. "If we can't manage to control the discussion, if we don't know how to ensure that aggressive, lying, racist or vulgar contributions are not posted to our website, then we are forced not to open some discussion boards," news server writes on its editorial blog. The editors also point out that the most frequent complaints received by are about the level of the discussions posted beneath the articles. gave a similar justification for its own decision: "As of today we are closing the discussion boards on several types of articles. The reason is the growing hatred and deteriorating communications and vocabulary of the discussants. This has primarily to do with the topics of Islam, Romani people, Russia and Ukraine. The hateful discussions conducted among themselves by several people depreciate the articles, these topics, the events reported on and the people we are writing about."

Not censorship
Both editorial boards say the move is under no circumstances about censorship, but about taking responsibility. "No, this is not censorship. This is a responsible decision. At the end of the day, it's not just the authors of these discussion posts who are responsible for their content - we are too," write the editors of As points out, administering discussion boards is an extraordinarly demanding, sensitive matter, because "many discussants consider the removal of their contributions to be interference with their freedom of speech. That is not the case. has always approached discussion boards with maximum openness, but it is unacceptable for our discussion boards to become a place for communications by extremists (of any kind) or for individuals who intentionally unleash hatred... We are making this move for our readers who want to join responsibly join discussions that stay on topic."

Czech media not much bothered by hatred
It seems that for the time being calls for hatred, the dissemination of lies, racism don't much bother the Czech media. While discussion board formats have changed in the Czech media more than once, many hateful, racist contributions are left untouched by the administrators of the discussions posted beneath articles online. In the Czech Republic the news server that is probably most hospitable to aggressive discussants is, where discussants must register under their own name, and, where the discussions are supervised by several moderators led by Jan Dvořák. Differences of perception as to what constitutes hatred have been well-mapped by the magazine RESPEKT in an article entitled "If Hitler had only known" (Kdyby to Hitler tušil), which investigates hatred on the Czech internet. "They've had hundreds of years and they still live on the outskirts of society. However, it's not because of racism, it's only because of their approach to education, life and work," one discussant posts beneath an article about Romani integration on

According to Dvořák such a posting may remain online because "while it is a bit of a generalization, it is nonetheless a legitimate, rather sober way of expressing a critical opinion of Romani people." Representatives of news server and take a different view of the matter. "That's an ordinary generalization unsupported by any arguments. Our image isn't made just by the quality of our articles, but by what kind of discussions we allow under our brand," Filip Struhárik, one of the designers of the current form of online debating at, told RESPEKT. Zdeněk Ryšavý, director of the ROMEA organization, agrees, saying he believes the contribution made above by a reader of is hate speech and should be removed. "This is a classic example of a generalization that tars an entire group of people with the same brush," he says.

Ryšavý believes everything should be removed that offends either specific individuals or any group of people, from Romani people to wheelchair users to Czech soldiers. "Naturally I am under no illusions that such hatred would completely disappear, I don't believe it would. However, at least the followers of such hatred would not have acccess to the biggest websites and to wide-ranging discussions. They should be somewhere in the background, tucked away on their own websites, and as long as they don't break the law, let them discuss all they want there," he said.

Improvement in the justice system and police
We can see a slight change for the better, of course, in the work of the justice system and police in the Czech Republic. As RESPEKT reports, a contribution posted to a discussion on Facebook calling for death to Czech soldiers participating in foreign missions was found by police to be a misdemeanor against civil coexistence warranting a CZK 5 000 fine. The author of the hateful commentary, Jiří Pohl, ultimately did not have to pay the fine, as he apologized. Recently former Czech MP Otto Chaloupka (Public Affairs) received a first-instance verdict for his own anti-Romani statements on Facebook. News server reported that Chaloupka was sentenced to six months' probation by the District court for Prague 1. The court made its ruling without holding a hearing or asking for additional evidence.

The former MP, according to the court, incited hatred against an ethnic group. Chaloupka appealed the April verdict and a hearing will be held in his case this September. Last year Chaloupka posted a message to his Facebook profile on the events in Duchcov (Teplice district), where a small group of Romani people attacked and beat up a non-Romani married couple. "Decent people have put up with your aggresion, your thievery and your unjustified demands for more and more advantages for long enough," he wrote. During the subsequent discussion he added that "people are on edge - a few more gypsy provocations like this and the slaughter will begin. Then even the riot police won't save them."
© Romea.


Germany: Neo-Nazis increasingly target young net users

A German Internet watchdog has issued a new report on hate propaganda circulated online. It identifies a rising trend and calls for more international cooperation in tackling the problem.

12/8/2014- Blatant racism, homophobia and promotion of violence are on the increase in the German-speaking cyber world, finds the latest annual report published by, Germany's state-sponsored child protection service in matters relating to the Internet. The report, titled "Right-wing extremism online 2013"  ("Rechtsextremismus online 2013") finds that the more offensive and provocative the content, the more quickly and broadly it is circulated. "While in the past the propaganda was more subtle, today we regularly see blatant portrayals of Jews, Muslims, Sinti and Roma and homosexuals as second-class citizens," Stefan Glaser, deputy head of, said in a statement.

Not new, only worse
This general finding reflects the overall trend identified in the reports from previous years. "The first neo-Nazi websites appeared in the 1990s, and right-wing Internet content has increased dramatically over the years," Christiane Schneider, head of the political extremism department at, told DW. "With the rise of social networking, hate propagators have also grown smarter. They know how to present themselves in a friendly and appealing way to attract young followers." Methods such as humor and satire are used, which help disguise hate speech. "In addition, a widespread climate of hate online makes this kind of behavior look increasingly normal, which only attracts more people," said Schneider.

Beyond national borders
While the study focused on Internet content accessed by German youth, its findings extend beyond Internet platforms hosted in Germany. An increasing amount of young people are networking internationally or simply using foreign websites for sharing extremist content. An example is the Russian social networking site VK. Previously known as VKontakte, the platform has been described as a safe haven for right-wing extremists from countries like Germany, where the laws controlling Internet content are stricter. The network has recently been used for disseminating videos published by the Okkupay Pedofilyay group, an anti-gay movement started in Russia. The videos feature neo-Nazis attacking, beating, torturing and humiliating gay people.

So far, according to, VK operators have not given a sufficient response. They rarely delete hate-inciting content or block access for German users. "It's hard to control the activities of web portals based abroad," said Schneider. However, there have also been some examples of success. "There is a Latvian question-and-answer site called, which has been quite popular among young German users," explained Schneider. "When we noticed right-wing activity there we notified the operators. At first they didn't react, but through various international contacts and organizations we managed to put pressure on them and today they react much more quickly to complaints." representatives hope to have more influence of this kind in the future. According to Glaser, sites like VK and US microblogging and social networking site Tumblr do very little do ban extremist content.

A double goal
While it's hard to pinpoint the exact consequences of an individual piece of right-wing propaganda online, there are obvious dangers when one particular group is labeled as inferior. aims to prevent young people from becoming both perpetrators and victims of online extremism. "Hate propagators take advantage of the latest technology and popular social networking sites to influence young people," said Schneider. "Some of these people then cause emotional or physical harm to their peers, but young Internet users can also be harmed simply by what they read online."
© The Deutsche Welle.


Australia: 'Cut the throats' racist Facebook rant was a hack

11/8/2014- A Sydney Trains employee has been suspended after allegedly using his Facebook page to threaten to “cut the throats” of any Australian who opposed Islam. The tirade warns that opponents of Islam will “perish in the fiery depths of hell”. Sydney trains have suspended the employee and alerted police. But in an exclusive interview with 9News, the employee has claimed his Facebook account was hacked into and that he was not responsible for the outburst. “I don't care if you have a hijab on, a turban on, I don't care if you are from the most western parts of NSW - I will help you if you need my help.” the 22-year-old told 9News. He is now terrified of reprisals and asked for his name to be withheld. He said he has already received death threats. “It's thrown my whole world out of balance. It's scary," he said. "I'm scared to leave my house.”

The man, a non-practising Muslim, claims the anti-Islamic group The Australian Defence League is responsible for hacking into his account in an attempt to fuel tensions between communities in Sydney’s west. “Someone said they’re going to put a bullet in my head, someone is going to cut my throat- that I'm a marked man. They've put personal details out about my life.” In a statement, Sydney Trains said it had no choice but to suspend the employee until the matter had been fully investigated. “Sydney Trains expects our staff to behave in a courteous, respectful and lawful manner at all times. There are serious consequences if a staff member is found to have breached the guidelines that are currently in place, aside from any action taken by the police,” said a spokesperson for Sydney Trains.
© Channel 9 Australia


Sweden: Politician ousted after beggar 'parasite' post

A local politician representing the governing Moderate Party has been removed from his posts after describing Roma beggars as "parasites".

9/8/2014- "Damn you parasites ...," was how Joacim Benes described beggars he had had an altercation with in a post on Facebook, according to a report in the Smålandsposten daily. "They are a disgrace to their country and mess it up for those who actually need help," he added. Benes, who is a Moderate municipal councillor in Växjö and chairman of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) in Kronoberg, defended his comments when the newspaper called. "It describes a single individual, not the whole group," he said. Benes is also reported to have written on Facebook that he had not had "very positive experiences of Roma who think they can take advantage of your generosity". The Facebook comments were removed after Benes' interview with the newspaper, although not before they had drawn the attention of the party hierarchy. On Friday evening the Moderate Party in Växjö issued a statement stating that Benes had resigned from all his political positions in the municipality. "I profoundly regret and am ashamed of what I wrote. It was one of the most stupid things I have done in my life," Benes said in the statement.
© The Local - Sweden


Swedish Politician Quits Following Anti-Semitic Facebook Post

A Swedish politician is facing sharp criticism after he wrote on Facebook that "Jewish pigs" are responsible for mass murders in Gaza.

5/8/2014- Omar Omeirat, Social Democrat candidate for the town council of Filipstad, central Sweden, gave a speech in the town on Friday evening advocating diversity and openness. On Saturday he sang a very different tune. "The entire Muslim world is sitting and watching while our brothers and sisters in Palestine are slaughtered by the Jewish pigs," Omeritat wrote on his Facebook page. "May Allah strengthen those who defend Palestine, and be merciful towards the dead Muslims. Amen." His Facebook page also included a flag used by the Islamist group Isis, local paper NWT reported. The post quickly became public knowledge, and the young politician came under fire for his choice of words. "I called Omar about what he had written, and he said that he had watched a film where Palestinian women and children were murdered by Jews," Åsa Hååkman Feldt, Social Democrat spokeswoman in Filipstad, told The Local. Omeirat quickly regretted the post, and updated his Facebook status to an apology. "He never meant to judge people who are Jews, Christians, or anything else," Feldt explained. "He just meant to judge Israel as a state."

On Tuesday it was announced he would be stepping down from his position. "I regret what I said," Omeirat told Sveriges Television. "It was the wrong choice of words and no one should say something like that." Feldt confirmed that Omeirat had decided to leave politics, and said it was entirely his own choice. "Of course we condemn his statement," Feldt told The Local. "But it is Omar himself who has decided that he should take the consequences for his actions and leave the party." Feldt called the situation "unusual", saying that the most common reason to step down is sickness. She explained that the town's voting slips are already printed and that Omeirat's name will still be on the list, but that he will not be eligible for a position in autumn elections. "You really have to think about what you write on Facebook, especially as a politician," Feldt added. "It's a public record and there are consequences." Last month Social Democrat party leader Stefan Löfven was criticized for expressing his thoughts about Gaza, when he wrote on Facebook that "Israel has the right to defend itself".
© The Local - Sweden


The Useful Idiots' “Gaza Holocaust”

By Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) and an expert in online public diplomacy and social media.

8/8/2014- While no civilian casualties are good, reports are now emerging that strongly question the number of civilian casualties in Gaza. The BBC’s head of statistics highlighted that the figures presented are highly improbable. He explains that, “some of the conclusions being drawn from them may be premature”. With that, the Hamas’s illusion begins to crack. The reality behind it is far uglier, and far more dangerous, than many have realised. Far away from the Middle East there are two additional sets of victims, neither Israeli not Palestinian. The first are Jews, facing raising antisemitism. The second group of victims includes many of those spewing out antisemitism. They too are victims as they act against their values in aid of a greater purpose. Those who have fallen into this trap will explain the uniqueness of the current conflict, and reflect on the reported number of civilian casualties. Their call to arms, however, rests on a carefully manufactured illusion.

It seems, statistically speaking, that the high civilian casualty rate in Gaza is very likely concealing many Hamas combatants. This is no surprise as a similar situation occurred in Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) when Hamas, at the time, claimed only 50 fighters were killed but later admitted to a figure of between 600 and 700 fighters, a figure almost identical to Israeli reports during the conflict. The supposedly disproportionate civilian casualty rate has been used not only to justify and mobilise hostility to Israel, but also to defend outright antisemitism including comparisons to the Holocaust. "How dare you raise the issue of antisemitism when so many people are being killed!" one former Facebook friend essentially wrote to me. If the number of civilian casualties is in fact similar to other conflicts, or proportionally less than other conflicts, when comparing the rate of civilian to combatant casualties, then a lot of people have been working off a false premise.

The reliance on a false premise led many to the conclusion that Israel deserved unique condemnation, and the issue deserved priority above all else on the international agenda. If the conflict was not exceptional, there was no basis for this special treatment. As I write this, rockets have resumed and the IDF just announced they are about to take action to eliminate the threat. One Twitter user, with a free Palestine image, responded saying that another Nuremberg was waiting for Israel. This Holocaust analogy is a spectacularly bad analogy, and deliberately antisemitic. I’ve seen that Gaza Holocaust analogy repeated so many times is becoming a Big Lie. And therein lies the second crack in the Hamas illusion. The antisemitic imagery used in this conflict is beyond anything we have seen before. It looks like a deliberate social media strategy of Hamas, and one that follows perfectly from the antisemitism in their mainstream media channels, including on children’s TV shows like Tomorrow’s Pioneers. When you realise Hamas has form for such media strategies, it’s time to dig deeper. The treatment of all casualties as civilians and the overt antisemitism, particular the comparison of Gaza to the Holocaust, are it now emerges, part of a coherent Hamas social media strategy. The strategy has been openly promoted to activists via official Hamas channels, in Arabic of course. MEMRI translated this guide in mid July, but it seems it didn’t get enough attention.

Let’s consider what we’re seeing in light of two points taken from the guide:
Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel's crimes against Palestinian civilians”
“Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don't forget to always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza

Our cracks suddenly open into fissures, and ground on which Hamas’s illusion rests should by all rights start to fall way. Both these point from the guide are being repeated time and time again in social media. Only some of that repetition is from hard core Hamas supporters who may have seen the guide. Much of it comes from people who have no idea about the ideology of Hamas, never mind Hamas’s social media war strategy. There is a technical term for those people who have been suckered into supporting the Hamas social media strategy, and therefore Hamas more broadly, without their knowledge. That term is “useful idiots”. Rich Lowry has written a great piece about the impact of these useful idiots, but missed the Hamas strategy to deliberately create more of them. I previously noted that Facebook was caught in a social media war, but I missed how antisemitism and the creation of useful idiots was part of this strategy.

In recent days I’ve explained the problem with the Holocaust analogy a number of times. Eventually I created a resource page to help others explain it. Some, including Muslims friends, quickly saw the problem. Others, anti-racism activists with no specific connection to the conflict, refused to see it. For them raising antisemitism was trying to dodge the issue of the casualties and the criticality of stopping Israel. Having not yet seen the fissures in the Hamas illusion, I felt I was staring down a rabbit hole. Comparisons between Israel and the Nazis are given explicitly as an example in the Working Definition of Antisemitism. It’s not a matter of interpretation or debate, it’s a matter of recognising what’s right in front of you. They way people around the world have been mislead as part of a deliberate Hamas run propaganda strategy is deserving of anger. The real civilian deaths, inevitable in any armed conflict, are still a tragedy, but to use support for human rights as part of a war strategy is morally reprehensible. We knew they were doing it with the living, now we see they are doing it with the dead as well. To promote Holocaust trivialization as part of a war strategy is also utterly reprehensible. Hamas advocates genocide of Jews in its charter, but how did anti-racists come to adopt this vile poison?

Those who have fallen for the Hamas propaganda strategy have fallen hard. Many have been told their comments are antisemitic, and reacted strongly against this. These people have been not only misled, but led to act entirely against their values. Hamas have turned anti-racism activists into tools promoting the agenda of genocide. Many have dug themselves in deeply, defending their position and use of antisemitic language with reference to the “unique nature” of the current conflict. With that premise exposed as a deliberate illusion, a propaganda construction, they have a very bitter pill to swallow. Many will seek other ways to validate their actions, at least to themselves. In doing so many may fall further into the arguments of racism which not only Hamas, but antisemites of all flavours, are currently flooding across social media. I don't have a solution, but unless people stop and take stock, Hamas may well achieve its real purpose, harm not just to Israel, but harm to Jewish people around the globe. The rise in antisemitism is a key outcome of this war, and it seems it is far from an accident.

Dr Andre Oboler is CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) and an expert in online public diplomacy and social media. OHPI's guide on reporting antisemitism on Facebook was released earlier today.
© The Jerusalem Post - Blogs


'Bomb Gaza' Apps Yanked From Google Store

Users Slam 'Shameless' Phone Games.

5/8/2014- Operation Protective Edge in Gaza inspired applications developers to create up-to-date games related to the conflict, but a few of the games and their creators have found themselves entangled in the international political furor surrounding the operation. A game entitled Bomb Gaza that was harshly criticized by surfers on Google Play Store was removed from the virtual shelves. Another one, entitled Gaza Assault: Code Red, is no longer available for download. The goal of Bomb Gaza, designed for mobile phones and tablets, is to assume the role of the Israeli army in order to strike as many Hamas terrorists as possible while steering clear of civilians. The terrorists are portrayed as characters in black who fire rockets. In Gaza Assault: Code Red, the player – who controls an unmanned aerial vehicle – must eliminate the Hamas terrorists but, as in most mainstream games, there are no civilians around.

The title of Bomb Gaza and the timing of its launch drew some angry responses and calls for its removal from Google Play Store. “Utterly shameful. Real people, many of them children, are dying in Gaza. Many of those who haven’t been killed face life with debilitating injuries, bereavement and without homes,” one commenter wrote. “Their suffering is as real as yours or mine, and to make light of it like this speaks of your essential failure as a human being. Shame on the creators of this game, and those who ‘play’ it.” Other commenters recommended that the game be reported to Google as containing offensive content. For his part, Roman Shapiro, the developer of Bomb Gaza, refused to answer Haaretz’s questions, but a Google spokesperson said, “This app is no longer available on Google Play. We don’t comment on specific apps but we remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies.”

The current hostilities have engendered several games. Some deal with Iron Dome, and at least one, called What the Hamas, deals with combat in the tunnels. It is similar to the old game Whack-A-Mole, in which players hit the heads of mechanical moles as they emerge from their underground tunnels. Another game constructed along the lines of Flappy Bird, in which the player is supposed to bombard Israel, is still available in the Google store. The history of controversial video games dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes back to the 1980s, to a game entitled Intifada, in which players were supposed to disperse riots in the territories while trying to avoid killing demonstrators. If too many were killed, a new and extreme-left government would be elected. The Intifada game caused quite an uproar in its day in Israel and throughout the world.

A game entitled Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator, which came out in the 1990s, gave players the opportunity to act as Israel’s prime minister, running the country until all the surrounding nations collapsed. Since then, there have been several games dealing with the conflict, some more seriously than others. One example is Peacemaker, in which the players act as prime minister (or the head of the Palestinian Authority) with the objective of making peace. Another game called Bomb Gaza was also created during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, but it was quite different from the current version. It was critical of Israel, portraying it as being responsible for mass murder in the Gaza Strip.
© The Forward


‘Bomb Gaza’ Google Play app lets Android users carry out Israeli air strikes on Palestinians

Users have called on Google to remove the game, which has been available to download since 29 July.

4/8/2014- Google is facing criticism for continuing to allow Android mobile users to download a game called “Bomb Gaza”, in which players are required to “drop bombs and avoid killing citizens”. The app, which was uploaded on 29 July, has been installed up to 1,000 times and received at least one report as “inappropriate”. As of Monday evening, the game was no longer listed on Google Play. According to the game’s description and a series of screenshots, users gain points by controlling aircraft marked with Israeli flags as they drop bombs on cartoon Hamas militants. It comes as more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing Gaza conflict. Israel has confirmed that 64 of its soldiers have died in combat, while three civilians have been killed by cross-border shelling from Gaza.

Responding to the game in its review section online, Iqra Iqbal wrote that it was an “abomination”, adding: “This is a violation of human rights. My beloved brothers and sisters are dying in Gaza and some stupid ignoramus decides to make a game like this. Others said it was a “messed up game” and “disgusting”, while Saadat Ali said: “Request all to scroll to the bottom and flag this app as inappropriate to Google.” People also took to Twitter to voice their criticism of the game, and user Elliott Clarkson wrote: “Google Play's approval process? Non-existent. So games like Bomb Gaza get through.”

It is not the only game available on Google Play that involves bombing Gaza, including "Iron Dome", “Gaza Assault: Code Red” that tells users to “secure the region” by taking control of “an Israeli UAV equipped with powerful weapons in an attempt to secure the region”. A spokesperson for Google, which is not believed to pre-approve games uploaded by users to the Play store, was not immediately available for comment.
© The Independent


Austria: Seven convicted of incitement against Roma

Seven men have received probationary sentences of between three and four months, after making abusive comments on Facebook and calling for a “final solution” for a Roma community in Bischofshofen, Salzburg.

The men started making the threats after a fight occurred last September between a group of teenagers from the Pongau region and around 200 Roma people who were legally camped near to a ski jumping site. Police had difficulty bringing the situation under control. Only one of the seven men was actually present at the fight. They were charged with trying to incite hate crimes after they made posts on a Facebook site, that had 2,442 members, calling for Molotov cocktails to be thrown into the Roma camp and one stated that “the dirty rabble should be eradicated”. One of the men said that what was needed was “a final solution”, referring to Nazi Germany’s plan to kill Europe’s Jewish population.

The prosecution said that the men had deliberately attempted to incite violence against the Roman people, in an “inhumane and hurtful way”. The comments were posted on a Facebook group called Rennleitung Pongau, that was set up to warn its members of police traffic controls. The accused said that they had posted the comments because they wanted “politicians and police to do something,” about the conflict between the Roma community and the locals. The men are between 18 and 39-years-old and include craftsmen, a student, and a wholesale merchant.
© The Local - Austria


Netherlands: Strong increase of antisemitism on the Internet due to Gaza conflict

More antisemitism on the Internet than during the 17 years MDI is in operation.

29/7/2014- Given the current critical situation with regard to antisemitism in the Netherlands (and Europe), calls for violence against Jews and expressions such as "Jews must die ', the Dutch Complains Bureau Discrimination on the Internet (MDI) thinks it is important to publish a short overview about the current situation on the Internet.

On average the MDI receives 4 to 5 complaints per week about online antisemitism. During the past 2 weeks only, the MDI got 122 complaints about 412 expressions of antisemitism, all related to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

What’s out there?
Apart from incoming complaints the MDI sees a huge explosion of antisemitism on the Internet of thousands of expressions per day, mainly in the social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) and notes a clear shift from antisemitism under the guise of anti-Zionism to overt antisemitism. The tone is extremely aggressive and distasteful, and everything seems to go; Jews are equated with Nazis, Jews are accused of genocide and support of "the monstrous SS-state in the Middle East," all Jews in the world are held accountable for what is happening in Gaza, the Jews have the power, the Jews have the power over all media in the Netherlands, the Netherlands are actually Jew-controlled…the list is long. It is notable that "Jew" and "Israeli" are not only used interchangeably, but are by now synonymous with each other. On both Facebook and Twitter, wishing Jews dead in a great variety of ways is currently one of the most popular expressions.

The Facebook page ‘The Jews have to die like if you are against the Jews free palestine’ got hundreds of likes' and was not initially seen by Facebook as violating its rules. After pressure from the MDI and others it was finally removed. The number of Dutch-language antisemitic Facebook pages runs in the hundreds, the number of antisemitic expressions has become innumerable. Regular use of fake accounts to spread hate has also become a tactic. These accounts are removed fairly quickly, but new fake accounts are easy to create.

Examples of Facebook expressions (translated from Dutch)
‘Tfoe, fuck the Jews, Jews must die '
‘Not only Palestine, the whole world is occupied and should get rid of those nasty Zionists'
‘Here is a picture of Jews drinking the blood of our brothers and sisters’
‘The only real Holocaust is now in Gaza '
‘Allah sees everything, Jews! You're dead!!’
‘Jews have deliberately created websites against the Quran and Hadith! Beware!’
‘Hitler come back and slaughter all those fucking shit Jews’
‘Rezpect Hitler. Wallaha Hitler is boss. Yeaaahhh was Hitler here, all jews would be dead he really should come back. HEIL HITLER’

On Twitter, the hashtag #hitlerwasright was used more than 10,000 times and became a so-called trending topic fast. The hashtag #hitlerdidnothingwrong was used nearly 3700 times. Both hashtags were used in connection with discussions on Gaza.

Examples of expressions Twitter (translated from Dutch)
‘Did Jews not learn from history’
‘I hope that once in my life I'm going to kill some Jews Fucking shit Jews #Free Palestine’
‘All those fucking Jews can die, and I prefer to kill them #FREE PALESTINE’
‘Now we know why Hitler gave the jews a shower #FREE PALESTINE we need a new Hitler ™Â ‘
‘#Free Palestine fuck the Jews! Destroy the #Jews!’
‘Fucking shit all the Jews dead #Free Palestine @Ismo_Music’
‘Hitler sure was a master man, in a few years so many Jews dead, goddamn I love him’
‘Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas! #Free Palestine’
‘Hoh see Muslims praise Jews because they shout #free palestine, they remain a Jew, mind you?? * facepalm *’
‘Wake up people fucking shit Jews are destroying my brothers and sisters #Free Palestine Fucking shit Jews’
‘Kill those dirty Jews Hitler has done nothing wrong’
‘@Berkeniaa: Adolf Hitler: "You will one day call me names because I have not slain all the Jews' #FREE PALESTINE ‘
‘@Kevitatjuuh_x: @ _goldmocro_ Hitler must come back again to kill those jews #Free Palestine’

Where does it originate?
Sadly, the lion's share of the current online antisemitism (40 to 50%) is coming from the Dutch Muslim community. Mainly from Moroccans, but also the ‘contribution’ from the Turkish community is growing. A smaller share of 37% is coming from the Dutch left-wing and the last part of almost 13%, the more "traditional" antisemitism, comes from the far right.

General observations
Presently, the MDI notes more antisemitism on the Internet than during all the previous 17 years of its existence. In online discussions, Dutch Jews who do not distance themselves (or not enough) from Israel are immediately held responsible for murder and genocide. Only Jews who are anti-Israel are "good Jews." These “good Jews” live outside of Israel and don’t support Israel. 'Bad Jews' are 'Zionists' and should (therefore) be killed. Expressions that were recently carried on banners and signs during pro-Gaza demonstrations were already to be seen on the Internet from the beginning of the conflict in Gaza on. Regardless of 'generic antisemitism’, also well-known Dutch Jews are insulted, threatened and demonized. It is interesting to note that while the Jews in the Netherlands are held responsible for what is happening in Gaza, Chinese in the Netherlands are never addressed on the occupation of Tibet and neither are Dutch Syrians on the atrocities of the Assad regime.

It is very worrying that the boosting role the Internet plays in the spread of anti-Semitism is exacerbated by the silence on the part of politicians and authorities. The Hague Mayor Jozias Van Aartsen does not speak out since he believes that calls to kill Jews during a recent demonstration in his City do not exceed any boundaries. Public Prosecutor Wouter Bos takes this wackiness to new heights by stating that the expression "Death to the Jews" is part of the 'public debate'.

The general atmosphere is that one does not need to act or speak out against calls (both during demonstrations and on the Internet) to kill Jews. This gives a license for even more antisemitism and incitement to violence, which in the neighboring countries, with France being the most glaring example, has already led to pogrom-like situations, while in the Netherlands, already the number of threats, antisemitic graffiti and other incidents are increasing.
© Complaints Bureau Discrimination Internet (MDI)


Australia: 60 Minutes Unholy War

26/7/2014- At around 8pm on Saturday night, Channel Nine’s 60 minutes Australia program posted an announcement on their Facebook page about tomorrow’s program. The announcement claims “#60Mins brings you both sides from the Israeli Gaza war zone”. Within a few hours of the announcement there had been over 250 comments in reply, many of them deeply antisemitic. 60 minutes opened the flood gates of hate at the end of the day before going home for the night and leaving the page without appropriate moderation.

This briefing examines the kinds of hate that users posted on the 60 minutes Facebook page. The initial post by 60 minutes, which set the tone for what followed, is then briefly examined. OHPI calls on 60 minutes and Channel 9 to ensure the page is properly moderated over the next 3 or 4 days to ensure comments like those below are removed promptly (within minutes). We also call of them not to make inflammatory posts at a time when it could spark conflict spilling over into the Australian community.

The choice of image emphasizes a sense of bias; the selected image is of the security barrier with colourful graffiti reading “Je Taime Palestine” with a heart, and next it the super imposed text “UNHOLY WAR” over it. The message is plain, we love Palestine, and the forces of evil are attacking her. Demonization can only be presented more clearly if one uses pictures of horned devils. The use of “Israeli Gaza war” in the announcement rather than “Israel / Gaza war” shifts the focus to one part of the conflict, ignoring the impact on Israel and instead it appears to only focus on Gaza and the tragedy of human suffering occurring there. If there was any doubt left the post starts with a quote, “There’s no place for a Palestinian state here”. The quote is no doubt from a far right Israeli, most likely representing no one but the far right. Similar extreme and unrepresentative views from specific Israelis have been used by 60 minutes before. They paint a distorted picture of the situation. Such bias set the tone for the antisemitic comments that followed. This in turn prompted the anti-Muslim comments. Unless 60 minutes applies strong moderation, the problem is likely to get worse after the show airs.
© The Online Hate Prevention Institute


Canada: University of Alberta researcher tracks racism on Twitter

If there’s one place in Western society where public displays of racism continue to rear its ugly face, it’s on social media.

26/7/2014- Irfan Chaudhry, a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta and part-time instructor at MacEwan University, can personally attest to this fact. Over a three month span in 2013, Chaudhry, 31, began collecting tweets containing negative racial remarks from Twitter account users in six major Canadian cities — Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Winnipeg. The findings from his research, known as the Twitter Racism Project, were posted online at and document over 750 cases where users were utilizing racially hateful speech — Alberta accounted for 122 of these posts.

Heading into the project, Chaudhry hoped to unearth two main points. “One, that racism still does exist, maybe not, thankfully, as overt as before but we still can’t discount that it doesn’t exist — and when you see some of the tweets it’s very direct in its focus,” said Chaudhry, who worked for two years as a crime analyst for Edmonton Police Service (EPS) for two years. “And two, just how powerful of a tool social media is, but Twitter specifically, in tracking not only racist language, but sexist language, and homophobic language.”

One of the more interesting aspects of his finding is that over half of the tweets Chaudhry collected were categorized as “real time responses” — instances where people would post a racially negative tweet in real time. “One example that stuck out was, “I’m sitting on a bus between two “pakis”, for example, and I found that surprising because in real time they’re writing while it’s happening to them and to have that be almost half the tweets I collected was very striking,” said Chaudhry, who will be presenting his findings at the 2014 Social Media & Society International Conference in Toronto, Ont in September.

The next step in Chaudhry’s dissertation project will focus primarily on why people, who otherwise would not voice overtly racist remarks to someone in person, feel comfortable posting comments on public forums like Twitter. Part of the reason is the anonymous factor that social media platforms provide but ultimately it’s a societal issue known as the Online Disinhibition Effect, Chaudhry explains, which is described as an online “loosening” of social restrictions that would otherwise be present in normal face-to-face interactions. “We’re doing this behind all the comfort of our screens or our telephones,” said Chaudhry, who is also focussing on the other side of the coin and how other Twitter users are reacting to racist tweets, and more specifically racial events in society — for example, recent remarks allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that sparked outrage online.

“Before, the most overt form of a text-space racist slur that we would see is if, say, someone graffiti’s it onto a wall, and it’s public and it’s there for people to see but it’s anonymous,” said Chaudhry. “Now, you have that same level of being anonymous and it’s still in a public realm and there’s still a lack of accountability but you can put ownership behind how people are reacting to it. Having that online momentum really foster into offline action is another important tool to think about.”
© The Edmonton Sun


Online anti-Semitism runs rampant in France

Since start of Israeli operation in Gaza, website moderators have been forced to censor 95% of comments made by French users.

26/7/2014- As the war in Israel rages on, with Operation Protective Edge into its third week, the war online continues to intensify. France, in particular, has seen some of the worst demonstrations and violence in condemning Israel's strike against Gaza, as anti-Israel demonstrators spent last weekend protesting, attempting to break into two Paris synagogues and vandalizing a kosher butcher shop. As anti-Semitism in France has been a growing problem for its Jewish residents as of late, this year has seen the largest delegation of French Jews making aliyah to Israel. If the rallies and news reports aren't enough to confirm what is taking place there, the online forums and hate speech certainly is, with commentators relentlessly attacking Israel, holding what it seems to be a very strong bias against the Jewish state.

According to a new report from AFP, since Operation Protective Edge began two and a half weeks ago, leaving over 600 Palestinians and dozens of IDF soldiers dead, this brand of hate posted online has significantly increased in a country that boasts the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Western Europe. "As soon as you talk about Israel, it crystallizes all passions, with up to 20,000 or 30,000 comments sometimes after an article, of which we will only let 5% to 10% through," explained David Corchia, head of an online moderation company of which both Le Figaro and Liberation (French news publications) are clients. Corchia says that as an online moderator, generally 25% to 40% of comments are banned. Moderators are assigned with the task of filtering comments in accordance with France's legal system, including those that are racist, anti-Semitic or discriminatory.

Regarding the war between the Israelis and Hamas, however, Corchia notes that some 95% of online comments made by French users are removed. "There are three times as many comments than normal, all linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," added Jeremie Mani, head of another moderation company Netino. "We see racist or anti-Semitic messages, very violent, that also take aim at politicians and the media, sometimes by giving journalists’ contact details," he added. "This sickening content is peculiar to this conflict. The war in Syria does not trigger these kinds of comments." His last comment is particularly significant; as reports come in that 270 Syrians were killed in a massacre at the hands of ISIS, there is little heard around the rest of the world. Where are the rallies and demonstrations? The boycotts? The condemnations? Mani notes that "without any moderation, these hate messages would invade everything, particularly as they quickly breed followers."
© Y-Net News


Headlines July 2014

Facebook Page Publishing Identities of French Jews to Encourage Attackers

A violent mob of more than a dozen men in France assaulted a Jew at his home in a Paris suburb after confirming that his photograph had been published by a French Facebook page identifying Jews to be targeted for physical intimidation, The Union of Jewish Students of France, the UEJF, said in a statement on Friday.

25/7/2014- The Facebook page, ‘Jeunes Révolutionnaires Français’, JRF, or ‘Young French Revolutionaries’, posted the names and photos of 32 Jews. The assault on one of those listed took place on Thursday night in Bobigny, Seine-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb. The assailants were armed with iron bars. On the ‘Secret Tel Aviv’ Facebook page, Daniel Cohen called the group anti-Semitic, and exhorted Facebook users to report the JRF page to site administrators for removal. On Facebook, Cohen wrote, “An anti-Semitic page is publishing names and pictures of French Jews in order to target them physically! A few have already been attacked at their homes, one last night by 15 people on one Jewish guy. We need to remove this page!” The JRF captioned its page with the photos of the Jews to be targeted, “Smile, you’re caught! JRF watches! # AntiLDJ,” referring to the LDJ, the French initials of the Jewish Defense League, an organization created to teach Jews how to defend themselves from anti-Semitic attacks.

The title page of the group’s Facebook presence features a large Palestinian flag and calls for members to attend a rally on Saturday in connection with the international Al Quds Day protests around the world where police are preparing for violence against Jews. The UEJF condemned the page and provided testimony from the assaulted Jew in Bobigny, according to France’s Le Monde Juif, or The Jewish World on Friday. The UEJF said three men went to the victim’s house and asked him, “Are you the guy in the photo on Facebook?” They then said they were there to “break the Jew” and do to him “the same as Ilan Halimi,” a 23-year-old who was kidnapped and tortured for 24 days by a gang led by Youssouf Fofana, described by The Jewish Chronicle as, “the extraordinarily cruel, Paris-born fifth of seven children of immigrants from the Ivory Coast.”

Halimi was found naked, handcuffed and bound to a tree near a railway station in February, 2006, and his body had been mutilated. Still alive, he died on the way to hospital. Halimi’s murder was made into a movie by French Jewish film director Alexandre Arcady entitled, 24 jours: la vérité sur l’affaire Ilan Halimi, or “24 Days: The Truth About the Ilan Hamili Affair,” inspired by a book with a similar title written by the victim’s mother, Ruth. In Bobigny, after they confirmed him to be the Jew in the photo, the three men were joined by 15 more, armed with iron bars, who assaulted the victim, the UEJF said. When another resident in the building appeared, the men fled the scene. The UEJF said: “For several days, many Facebook pages have been created to encourage physical violence against young Jews. Photos were published, with the identities, phone numbers, and contact information. This young man was directly affected by such a Facebook page. It is unacceptable that the Jews are the target of Facebook calls to murder.”

The UEJF said it will file a complaint against the administrators of the Facebook page for incitement to racial hatred and incitement to violence. In the French media, the LDJ has been blamed for calling for a strong reaction by Jews threatened with violence over the past two weeks since Israel began its Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas’s rocket fire from Gaza. But Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF, the umbrella organization representing the Jewish community in France, told The Daily Beast on Friday that LDJ was not instigating further violence, and those accusations were beside the point. “I am shocked when I hear journalists saying if the De La Roquette synagogue was attacked, it is because of the Jews,” Cukierman told The Daily Beast. “This is propaganda.” “We had eight synagogues being attacked,” he said. “I am worried about the fact that synagogues are being attacked and not worried about these self-defense groups.”

UPDATE: Facebook has removed the Jeunes Révolutionnaires Français page, which was no longer hosted on the social media platform, as of late Friday evening. A reader of The Algemeiner reported the group to Facebook, which sent him a message to say that it has recognized JRF’s “credible threat of violence” and removed its page. Facebook’s message noted that JRF was informed that its page had been removed, but not told who made the complaint.
© The Algemeiner


UK: Far right group launches cyber-attack against housing association

Orbit Group has been bombarded with hundreds of emails accusing it of discriminating against white people, as part of an orchestrated campaign by a far right group.

24/7/2014- Radical nationalist group Britain First hit Orbit with more than 700 emails and social media posts. It is believed the emails, described as ‘often offensive and sometimes threatening’, were intended to crash Orbit’s computer systems. The 38,000-home association was earlier this month embroiled in a row over advertisements that stated that priority would be given to people from Asian communities at the Apni Haweli sheltered housing scheme in Chatham, Kent. Britain First was set up in 2011 by ex-British National Party members. It campaigns against immigration and so-called ‘Islamification’ of the UK. Orbit chief executive Paul Tennant said the association would not be intimidated or back down to the activists. It increased security at its head office in Coventry to coincide with a Britain First national ‘roadshow’ that passed through the city last Friday. Mr Tennant said there were no reports of any disorder. It has also tightened security at Apni Haweli.

Mr Tennant, writing in Inside Housing this week, said: ‘This type of prejudice has no place in a fair, modern society and we will not be intimidated by people like this. ‘Orbit has not acted incorrectly or illegally… Orbit’s mission is ‘Building communities’ and we are proud to provide homes for people of all backgrounds, like this particular scheme for a mixed group of older people.’ Mr Tennant also criticised the intervention of then housing minister Kris Hopkins, who had said he was ‘concerned that any housing policy based on race will undermine good community relations’. Britain First declined to comment. Last week members of Britain First’s ‘Kent battalion’, dressed in black flat caps and bomber jackets, entered the Crayford Mosque in south London and demanded the removal of signs on the grounds they said were ‘sexist’ in an unrelated protest.
© Inside Housing


Malta: Officials could face jail over race groups

Public officers and civil servants could face up to five years in prison for creating or assuming leadership of racist groups once amendments are made to the Criminal Code, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said.

20/7/2014- The amendments, which form part of a broad legislative review, will make it illegal for government officials and law enforcement officers, “under colour of their office”, to create or assume leadership of a “group” which promotes racial hatred. Government sources said the move was prompted by inquiries which revealed that a number of officers and civil servants had publicly aired racist views through social media, raising concerns that these might abuse their position to promote a racist agenda. Dr Bonnici would not comment on what prompted the amendments saying only that the law would bring Malta in line with the rest of the international community. “These articles were introduced both as a national intuitive and in fulfilment of Malta’s international obligations under United Nations conventions on human rights.” The amendment falls short of highlighting membership within such groups as being a crime.

Human rights lawyer Neil Falzon, however, explained that such a move could impinge on individual freedoms. Welcoming the general direction of the amendment, Dr Falzon said he hoped the law would stop government officials from using their position to promote racism. “The problem here is that if authorities are being racist, then this not only pushes migrants away from the State but also sends out the message that the State is condoning this view,” he said. Inciting racial hatred and violence is already a crime with a maximum prison sentence of 18 months. Trivialising or condoning racial violence, on the other hand, could land you in prison for up to two years. The Public Administration Act puts forward guidelines for state employees to avoid racially sensitive discussions and the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality provides annual training sessions for public officers.
Integra director Maria Pisani, however, expressed doubts whether the amendments were enough. “I have reservations as to how much effort is being made to combat the spread of racially discriminatory discourse. And, I hope that any reform will be top down as well as horizontal because this is a problem coming from all sides of government,” she said. Last April, the Cyber Crimes Unit told this newspaper it was investigating a number of racially motivated crimes that were committed on social media. Unit Head Timothy Zammit had explained that threatening a person over social media, was just as much a crime as doing it face-to-face. “People seem to feel they can get away with crimes when done on social media. A crime in Malta is still a crime if it is done online. This is also true of racism,” he said.
© The Times of Malta


Israelis and Palestinians battle on social media

With the invasion of Gaza, the eyes of the world, and social media forums in particular, are closely watching the conflict and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

18/7/2014- For nearly two weeks Facebook, Twitter and nearly every other form of social media has been inundated with a constant barrage of brutal images illustrating realities on the ground in Gaza. The grim photos of bloodshed are now so immediate that people have become emotionally involved even if they've never been to Israel, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip. Just this week, four Palestinian children were killed along the beachfront in central Gaza. Another three children were rushed onto the balcony of nearby al Deira hotel, where journalists tried to administer life-saving first aid to one of the young boys who had a shrapnel wound in the chest. Incidents like these leave many in the wider public reeling in disgust at what looks like the indiscriminate targeting of children. Against this backdrop and the climbing toll of child deaths among the civilian casualties in Gaza, Israel has moved to counter the online propaganda war that, so far, the Palestinians seem to be winning.

War online
Nestled in a quiet, leafy campus along the idyllic Mediterranean coastline is the nondescript computer lab at IDC Hertzliya. Inside this building, just north of Tel Aviv, is the command center for Israel's new media counter-offensive. A group of 400 Israeli students on the campus are pushing back against the outpouring of sympathy for Palestinians killed or wounded in Gaza by using the hashtag IsraelUnderFire. They are attempting to garner support for a war they see as unavoidable, defensive and provoked only by rocket fire from Hamas militants. The base for this online counteroffensive is known as the "Hasbara Room," or explanation room. The opposing Palestinian hashtag GazaUnderAttack lost credibility when images in some posts were later discovered by the BBC to contain images of older examples of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or were from other parts of the Middle East such as Iraq or Syria.

The New York Times, however, also claims that tweeting images from the "Hasbara Room" have either been "misidentified, or even fabricated." "One widely shared image posted by the #IsraelUnderFire tag apparently shows a Muslim protester holding placards that read 'Stop Hamas Terrorism on Israel' and 'Free Gaza From Hamas' but appears to have been created digitally manipulating a news photograph of a November 2012 protest in Sarajevo," the paper wrote.

Chenli Pinchevskey, a 22-year-old student of government and diplomacy, has plunged herself into the campaign, working full-time and managing all the volunteers and staff for the Hasbara Room, which is run with university funding and donations. "Today the world is dominated by the media and what you see is what you know. We learned over the years that the world doesn't hear enough from Israel and doesn't know our side of the story, " she said. "Every story has two sides and we have our own story to tell. We came across so many lies, hate speech and propaganda, that we felt we just had to do something," said Pinchevskey.

'Hamas is doing this to all of us'
She believes that what the group is doing is not propaganda: "I think what we're doing is telling our story, the way we feel it everyday. I am telling the world what it's like to live in Israel, what it's like to not be able to leave the house out of fear that a siren will go off." When asked by DW if she felt sympathy for innocent Gazan people who had been killed or injured she replied: "I know that Gaza children are as afraid as my little brother and I want the world to know that Hamas is doing that to all of us, and it can and must be stopped," she said.

Student Union chairman Yarden Ben-Yousef and Lidon Bar David set up the Hasbara Room two years ago during Israel's last war with Gaza, when they were not called up for reserve duty in 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense. They estimate that their message reached 21 million people around the world in 2012, and they've now set up the website The group is now making a case for Israel's offensive in Gaza by posting video clips, images, advertisements, posters, comments, and memes on Facebook and Twitter. On the website, blog posts are uploaded and written by a Hollywood screenwriter and a reservist in the Israel army. The videos argue for Israel's right to self-defense and liken militant rocket fire from Gaza to well-known terrorist attacks in the United States, such as on 9/11. Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada - the Palestinian equivalent of the Israeli sites - told "The New York Times" that he was surprised at how open the students are in identifying themselves as partisans working in concert with their government to justify the use of force in Gaza.

Prime Minister's office
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thown his support behind the people involved with Israel Under Fire, launching what he called a "diplomacy war room" of a similar nature to Hasbara - only this one is located in his office. Masa Israel Journey is "a joint effort to raise awareness of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and to explain to the world that Israel embarked on a defensive operation under the banner Israel Under Fire." The government press office would not disclose how much government funding was going into the propaganda machine, but it is partially funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel. Whether it's working or not is another question - regardless, Twitter feeds are full of tweets from the prime minister and the Israeli Defense Force.

Masa Israel Journey is "a joint effort to raise awareness of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and to explain to the world that Israel embarked on a defensive operation under the banner Israel Under Fire." The government press office would not disclose how much government funding was going into the propaganda machine, but it is partially funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel. Whether it's working or not is another question - regardless, Twitter feeds are full of tweets from the prime minister and the Israeli Defense Force.
© The Deutsche Welle.


Austria: Anti-semitic posts: Kurz appeals to prosecutor

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has appealed to the state prosecutor after receiving dozens of anti-semitic comments on his Facebook page last Wednesday following a post where he called for peace in the Middle East.

17/7/2014- "We will submit a statement of facts to the prosecutor's office to examine the hate postings," said Kurz, according to a report in the daily tabloid Österreich. Kurz's spokesman Gerald Fleischmann, confirmed to the APA press agency on Wednesday that the minister "does not want to see his site being used for such harassment." "Discussion yes, but no baiting," Fleischmann added. Using the applicable laws on incitement and discrimination, Kurz will submit a statement - which includes screenshots from his Facebook site - to the prosecutor, so the comments can be investigated. Over the past few days, Kurz has appealed to both sides of the Gaza conflict to stop the violence. His comments were subsequently posted on his Facebook page.
© The Local - Austria


Neo-Nazi website owner flees the US

15/7/2014- Béla Varga, owner of the extreme right-wing website, registered in the US, has fled to Canada after the FBI issued a warrant for his arrest. Varga, a resident of California, is a Canadian-Hungarian dual citizen. Varga is suspected of harassing and threatening to kill the lawyer who had obtained a subpoena to question him about the website. He was arrested in California in May but set free on $250,000 bail. When he failed to appear at two hearings in San Francisco, a warrant for his arrest was issued. Varga, his wife and two sons then fled to Canada.
© Politics Hungary


USA: Warrant issued for Healdsburg man with ties to far-right Hungarian website

12/7/2014- To his neighbors, Bela Varga seemed like a nice guy who kept to himself. The owner of a short-lived specialty spice shop in downtown Healdsburg, he played the keyboard and claimed to have learned about wine-making in his native Hungary. One resident on the quiet cul de sac where he lived called Varga, 51, “a man of mystery,” especially after authorities showed up about a month ago to ask about him. “An FBI woman agent showed me a picture. She asked me if I was familiar with him,” said neighbor John Manning. Although some of his neighbors were unaware of it, Manning had heard previously that Varga was associated with a far right Hungarian website known for its anti-Semitism and homophobia, which has drawn attention from the Hungarian government and even U.S. congressional representatives. “I’m shocked. He’s always been so sweet and kind when I’ve talked to him,” said one neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. “It doesn’t fit the limited interaction we’ve had with him,” said Andrew Beard, his landlord of more than six years.

Last week, Varga also became a wanted man. A $300,000 bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up twice in San Francisco court on criminal charges of stalking and harassing an attorney who obtained a subpoena to question him about his ties to the Hungarian website. Varga’s family told neighbors he is in Canada, where he is a citizen. The Fitch Mountain Villas townhouse where he lived with his wife Judit Pesti and their sons, 18 and 20 years old, is now empty, scarred from an upstairs fire on June 16. The cause appeared to be electrical malfunction, according to the Healdsburg Fire Department. Human rights groups say the website that Varga allegedly registered,, regularly disputes the Holocaust and organizes hate campaigns against Hungary’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Roma communities. “At present, is the most active hate group operating in Hungary,” said the Budapest-based Athena Institute. “Its main focus is the propaganda activities carried out on the group’s Internet site that it labels as a ‘news portal.’”

Although written in Hungarian, with content generated in that country,’s domain name was registered by Varga, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The lawsuit filed by Action and Protection Foundation, a Hungarian human rights organization, is seeking to gain more information about Varga’s ties to the website so that criminal and civil proceedings can proceed in Hungary, where anti-Semitic provocation is illegal. “Under federal law, you can conduct discovery in support of foreign cases,” said Michael Sweet, the plaintiff’s attorney. Last month, the human rights group obtained subpoenas issued by U.S. Magistrate Laurel Beeler to question Varga under oath about his links to, as well as a bank account in Sonoma County that he is said to have opened for the website. Varga didn’t show up to contest the subpoenas. Instead he is now accused of making death threats and stalking attorney Sweet over a period of six days in late April.

After being arrested, Varga pleaded not guilty to the charges on May 8 and was released from custody in lieu of $250,000 bail. But he subsequently failed to appear twice in court and his bail was forfeited, according to Assistant San Francisco District Attorney Alex Bastian, resulting in the $300,000 bench warrant issued last week. Varga’s defense attorney, Nafiz Ahmed of Redwood City, declined comment Friday. “I’m not going to be able to answer any questions about his case,” he said. Sweet declined to discuss the alleged threats Varga made against him. But he said the district attorney’s office is “taking it seriously.” An FBI spokesman did not reply to inquiries about the agency’s involvement with Varga. In the civil case naming Varga, Sweet also targeted Cloudflare, the San Francisco-based webhost used as a platform for the articles published by The court also required the company to testify and provide documents about its connection with and Varga.

Asked if Cloudflare will comply with the subpoena, a spokeswoman said in an email Thursday that the company complies with all U.S. laws, regulations and court orders. “If we believe the subpoena to be valid, we provide written notice to the customer of the subpoena, giving the customer opportunity to challenge the subpoena,” said company representative Daniella Vallurupali. She declined to say whether Cloudflare would continue to act as a webhost for the Hungarian website. “Cloudflare has millions of customers and will not comment on a customer without that customer’s express permission,” she said. Varga’s connection to first came to light in September 2012 in a report on another Hungarian political website, according to, a Bay Area Jewish website. Subsequently, Varga was quoted in Healdsburg as acknowledging he registered the far right Hungarian website as a favor to friends in Hungary and also opened a bank account for them. “I helped them out in 2008, when the government closed them down and they couldn’t open a bank account,” he reportedly told Patch, along with acknowledging some writers “leaned toward Nazism,” but he valued freedom of expression.

According to the lawsuit in federal court, published the home addresses and phone numbers of demonstrators outside the Budapest home of an accused Nazi collaborator who sent thousands of Hungarian Jews to their deaths in World War II. One newspaper article cited in the lawsuit said that offered a $340 bounty for every demonstrator outside the accused Nazi’s house, “courtesy of our comrade Bela Varga who lives in America.” The climate of anti-Semitism and intolerance in Hungary drew the scrutiny of American legislators two years ago, who expressed alarm about a diatribe from a member of Jobbik, a Hungarian political party, who called Israeli Jews “lice infested dirty murderers.” In a letter from Rep. Joseph Crowley to Hungarian Prime Minister Orban Viktor, the New York congressman urged the Hungarian government to stand up to the hate speech “which denigrates, intimidates and scapegoats minorities in Hungary and has no place in any society.” The letter was signed by 49 other members of Congress including Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

In his letter of reply, the Hungarian prime minister said the anti-Semitic extremist forces are receiving their greatest support from the United States. “The focal point of Hungarian anti-Semitism is a news portal, which to avoid the measures of the Hungarian government, fled to the United States and has been conducting its disgraceful activities from there,” Orban stated. “If this problem were to be resolved, then the Hungarian forces of anti-Semitism would be severely weakened.” Around the time Vargas and his link to surfaced, his store, The Red Paprika, located across from the Healdsburg Plaza, moved a block north on Healdsburg Avenue. But it closed within months. The old Red Paprika location is now occupied by Gathered, a women’s accessories and gift store. “There’s some backlash on us. People come in asking do we know him, or know anything about his political viewpoints,” said Cindy Holman, a store partner. She said one older Jewish woman, an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, came to the store after it was no longer Red Paprika. The woman told Holman that she encountered Varga at a pharmacy and spoke to him in Hungarian telling him, “I know who you are.”
© The Press Democrat


USA: The Data of Hate (opinion)

By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

13/7/2014- VIKINGMAIDEN88 is 26 years old. She enjoys reading history and writing poetry. Her signature quote is from Shakespeare. She was impressed when the dialect quiz in The New York Times correctly identified where she was from: Tacoma and Spokane, Wash. “Completely spot on,” she wrote, followed by a smiling green emoji. I gleaned all this from her profile and posts on, America’s most popular online hate site. I recently analyzed tens of thousands of the site’s profiles, in which registered members can enter their location, birth date, interests and other information. Call it Big Hatred meets Big Data.

Stormfront was founded in 1995 by Don Black, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Its most popular “social groups” are “Union of National Socialists” and “Fans and Supporters of Adolf Hitler.” Over the past year, according to Quantcast, roughly 200,000 to 400,000 Americans visited the site every month. A recent Southern Poverty Law Center report linked nearly 100 murders in the past five years to registered Stormfront members. The white nationalist posters on Stormfront have issues with many different groups. They often write about crimes committed by African-Americans against whites; they complain about an “invasion” of Mexicans; and they love to mock gays and feminists. But their main problem appears to be with Jewish people, who are often described as super-powerful and clever — the driving force, generally speaking, behind the societal changes they do not like. They sometimes call the Holocaust the “Holohoax.”

Stormfront members tend to be young, at least according to self-reported birth dates. The most common age at which people join the site is 19. And four times more 19-year-olds sign up than 40-year-olds. Internet and social network users lean young, but not nearly that young.
Graphic White, Bigoted and Young Who joins a hate forum? OPEN Graphic

Profiles do not have a field for gender. But I looked at all the posts and complete profiles of a random sample of American users, and it turns out that you can work out the gender of most of the membership: I estimate that about 30 percent of Stormfront members are female. The states with the most members per capita are Montana, Alaska and Idaho. These states tend to be overwhelmingly white. Does this mean that growing up with little diversity fosters hate? Probably not. Since those states have a higher proportion of non-Jewish white people, they have more potential members for a group that attacks Jews and nonwhites. The percentage of Stormfront’s target audience that joins is actually higher in areas with more minorities. This is particularly true when you look at Stormfront’s members who are 18 and younger and therefore do not themselves choose where they live. Among this age group, California, a state with one of the largest minority populations, has a membership rate 25 percent higher than the national average.

One of the most popular social groups on the site is “In Support of Anti-Semitism.” The percentage of members who join this group is positively correlated with a state’s Jewish population. New York, the state with the highest Jewish population, has above-average per capita membership in this group. In 2001, Dna88 joined Stormfront, describing himself as a “good looking, racially aware” 30-year-old Internet developer living in “Jew York City.” In the next four months, he wrote more than 200 posts, like “Jewish Crimes Against Humanity” and “Jewish Blood Money,” and directed people to a website,, which claims to be a “scholarly library” on “Zionist criminality.” Stormfront members complain about minorities’ speaking different languages and committing crimes. But what I found most interesting were the complaints about competition in the dating market.

A man calling himself William Lyon Mackenzie King, after a former prime minister of Canada who once suggested that “Canada should remain a white man’s country,” wrote in 2003 that he struggled to “contain” his “rage” after seeing a white woman “carrying around her half black ugly mongrel niglet.” In her profile, Whitepride26, a 41-year-old student in Los Angeles, says, “I dislike blacks, Latinos, and sometimes Asians, especially when men find them more attractive” than “a white female.” Political developments certainly play a role. The day that saw the biggest single increase in membership in Stormfront’s history, by far, was Nov. 5, 2008, the day after Barack Obama was elected president.

The top reported interest of Stormfront members is “reading.” Most notably, Stormfront users are news and political junkies. One interesting data point here is the popularity of The New York Times among Stormfront users. According to the economists Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro, when you compare Stormfront users to people who go to the Yahoo News site, it turns out that the Stormfront crowd is twice as likely to visit Perhaps it was my own naïveté, but I would have imagined white nationalists’ inhabiting a different universe from that of my friends and me. Instead, they have long threads praising “Breaking Bad” and discussing the comparative merits of online dating sites, like Plenty of Fish and OkCupid.

There was also no relationship between monthly membership registration and a state’s unemployment rate. States disproportionately affected by the Great Recession saw no comparative increase in Google searches for Stormfront. Some of this research adds to recent literature in the field that is frankly shocking and should change the way we think about hate. In the 1930s, Arthur F. Raper reported a correlation between bad economic conditions and lynchings of blacks. This led many scholars to the intuitive conclusion that people turn to hate because their lives are going poorly.

But evidence is increasingly casting doubt on this idea. In 2001, the political scientists Donald P. Green, Laurence H. McFalls and Jennifer K. Smith used more data and found that there was actually no relationship between lynchings and economic hardship. Lynchings actually fell during the Great Depression. The economist Alan B. Krueger has shown that terrorists are not disproportionately poor. And the economists Roland G. Fryer Jr. and Steven D. Levitt found that Ku Klux Klan members were actually better educated than the typical American.

Return to VikingMaiden88. When you read her 189 posts since joining the site, she often seems like a perfectly nice and intelligent young woman. But she also has a lot of hatred. She praises a store for having “100% white employees.” She says the media is promoting a “Jewish agenda.” And she says she finds Asians “repulsive physically, socially, religiously, etc.” Why do some people feel this way? And what is to be done about it? I have pored over data of an unprecedented breadth and depth, thanks to our new digital era. And I can honestly offer the following answer: I have no idea.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a contributing opinion writer who recently received a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard.
© The New York Times


UK: Amnesty International website blocked for immigration detainees

The latest unannounced official HMIP report on Haslar immigration detention centre reveals that the centre staff had blocked the websites for Bail for Immigration Detainees(BID) and Amnesty International: Detainees had access to the internet, but some key websites were blocked. The officer on duty in the internet suite could unblock any site. When we visited, the officer agreed to unblock the Bail for Immigration Detainees’ website but not Amnesty International’s without more senior approval.

9/7/2014- BID is a small charity that informs immigration detainees of their legal rights and the immigration bail process and who co-ordinates free representation that many immigration barristers, myself included, provide on a rota basis. Amnesty International is somewhat better known and amongst other things provides country information essential for fighting asylum claims and gathers data about human rights abuses in detention.

I wonder what other websites were blocked? AVID have been working on this issue and I have reported on it previously. There seems to be a discretion to block websites at each detention centre. On a similar note, the inspection found that the number of detainees who had managed to see their lawyer had halved since 2009, falling from 51% to 26%, “welfare” staff wrongly prevented some detainees from attending legal surgeries and the Home Office broke procedure rules by withholding the documents for bail hearings.

So why would the profit making private companies responsible for immigration detention want to block access to websites that might inform detainees of their bail rights and allow them to report abuses, reduce access to lawyers, prevent detainees from preparing their own asylum cases properly, all thereby increasing the pool of immigration detainees? Answers on a postcard, please.
© Free Movement


UK: Internet filters blocking one in five most-popular websites

Jezebel and Guido Fawkes sites among those blocked by at least one mobile or fixed line service provider in UK, campaigners say

2/7/2014- Nearly one in five of the most visited sites on the internet are being blocked by the adult content filters installed on Britain's broadband and mobile networks. A Porsche car dealership, two feminist websites, a blog on the Syrian War and the Guido Fawkes political site are among the domains that have fallen foul of the recently installed filters. The Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital rights, surveyed the 100,000 most popular sites as ranked by digital marketing research firm Alexa, and found that 19,000 of them were blocked by at least one fixed line or mobile internet service provider. The UK's four mobile networks have used filters for a number of years, with some imposing them on all pay-as-you-go subscribers.

Following a push by David Cameron, broadband companies including TalkTalk, BT, Virgin Media and Sky have caught up, introducing adult content blocks that offer parents the choice of screening out potentially harmful content. Every household will be asked whether they wish to install a broadband filter before the end of 2014. The filters screen out pornography, suicide and self-harm related content, weapons and violence, gambling, drugs, alcohol and tobacco, but users can also opt to block dating, music and film piracy, games and social networking.

"Filters can stop customers accessing your business, block political commentary or harm your education," said Jim Killock, executive director at Open Rights. "The government has told everybody that they have to take child safety extremely seriously and that filters are in some way an answer to that. People are being pushed into filtering lots of content that they simply don't need to and is not dangerous to children." Marielle Volz, an American who had just moved to the UK with her husband and young son, had no internet access at home and wanted to read an article about recovering from childbirth on her mobile phone. But the feature, "Stop acting like 'bouncing back' from labor is even possible", was published by, a website owned by the respected digital publisher Gawker Media, and which is currently blocked by her mobile network, Three.

Volz said: "I was so excited to move to a country with sane maternity leave policies, only to find I couldn't even read an article about it!" Three imposes an adult content filter as default for all pay as you go customers. A spokesman for the network said the Jezebel block was under review and that customers could report any wrongly filtered material via its website. Philip Raby, who runs a Porsche brokerage based in Chichester, found his website had fallen foul of O2's filter. He sent emails and made calls, but was unsuccessful in having the ban lifted until he began tweeting about the problem. "We must have lost some business as a result," said Raby. "It doesn't look great telling people the site is not suitable for under 18s!"

A spokesman for O2 said: "The vast majority of sites are categorised correctly but with the millions of sites now connected to the web and the wide variety of content, mistakes can happen." Syrian War commentator Aboud Dandachi's blog has been screened out by EE, O2, Sky and Vodafone, according to Open Rights Group's research, although a spokesman for Vodafone said it was now visible on his filtered phone., which focuses on sexual health, violence against women and lesbian and gay rights, relies like many sites on traffic to its pages to earn the advertising revenue that funds its content. It was blocked by TalkTalk in April, and the bar has since been lifted.

Sherights editor Maureen Shaw said: "The effect of filtering boils down to advertising revenue, which is based on site visitors. If people who would normally be interested in accessing our content are not able to view the site, it directly impacts our bottom line." The Guido Fawkes website is being blocked in households which have selected to screen out all social media, according to TalkTalk. The category covers Facebook and Twitter, but also blogs and chat forums, and is classified as a blog. TalkTalk, whose filter is called HomeSafe, said customers could email to report wrongly blocked sites. A spokeswoman said: "We welcome feedback to ensure we are continually improving the product."
© The Guardian


Britain First's Facebook page removed for hate speech... but back on in hour

Far-right group Britain First’s Facebook page was taken down for publishing posts containing hate speech – but an hour later they were back online.

30/6/2014- The page’s removal was allegedly requested by race equality campaigners Hope Not Hate. Administrators of the Britain First page have since posted their reaction, branding the group as ‘trolling idiots’. The political group, who pride themselves on wearing bomber jackets and berets, plan on bringing their political ‘road show’ to Wigan on July 6. Wigan Councillor Michael McLaughlin told MM that support for the party has risen as the economy worsened and said: “I think it’s a reaction to austerity and I think it’s people who are despairing and can’t see any future for themselves, but just resort in blame it on everybody else. “Fundamentally I am against it, but they’ve got the right to come. I understand that we’re a free society and we’ve got to accommodate all views. “However,they think exposure will work in their favour but I actually think exposure will do the worst for them“ Britain First have not disclosed the location of their appearance in Wigan in case ‘anybody turns up’ and insists that the meeting is a member-only event. A representative from Hope Not Hate confirmed to MM that the ‘500,000-strong Facebook page is down’ but did not confirm that the page was censored at the group’s request.

With Facebook ‘likes’ reaching nearly 500,000, Britain First’s presence on social media dwarves all three main political parties on the social networking site. Labour currently command 177,594 likes with the Conservatives leading them on 226,536 and fellow coalition party the Liberal Democrats bottom of the pile with 97,906. Anti-EU party UKIP continue their rise on the social media site with 225,342 likes – but cannot compete with Britain First. The far-right party’s Facebook page contains posts implying: backing to bring pro-firearm rights to the UK amongst an array of Islamaphobic memes and members holding banners outside councils reading ‘no more mosques’.
© Mancunian Matters


New Dutch intelligence report on jihadis and social media

Radical Islamist groups in the Netherlands have become a decentralised and elusive "swarm" that may broaden their focus from the conflict in Syria to the wider Middle East, the Dutch intelligence service warned on Monday.

30/6/2014- Its report reflects widespread concern in Europe at the threat posed by European citizens - mainly from an Islamic immigrant milieu - leaving to fight in Middle East conflicts and returning battle-hardened and posing a security threat. Dutch authorities estimate that 120 Dutch citizens have so far left to fight in Syria's civil war, but said that a larger movement of radical Muslims in the Netherlands had several hundred adherents and thousands of sympathisers. The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Agency (AIVD) said in its latest assessment of the threat posed by underground jihadist groups that they were stronger and more self-confident.

The agency said the phenomenon was becoming ever harder to track as social media made it possible for increasingly "professionalised" radical movements to coordinate themselves without the need for a centralised authority. "The movement has taken on the character of a swarm," the agency said. "There is a less hierarchical structure than at the turn of the millennium, which makes it more flexible, effective and less vulnerable to 'attack' from outside." The Netherlands has banned recruiting for militant groups and is also weighing legal measures to prevent its nationals from joining foreign insurgencies.

An 18-year-old man was recently arrested in The Hague on suspicion of recruiting people to take part in the Syrian conflict, and some 30 people suspected of planning to do so have had their passport seized, the government's anti-terrorism coordinator said in a letter to parliament on Monday. European governments have struggled to stop their nationals, some just teenagers, from travelling to Syria where the conflict, which began as peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad and evolved into an armed rebellion now in its fourth year. More than 160,000 people have been killed. But the AIVD warned that radicals in the Netherlands might turn their attention towards fighting in other current or potential Middle East conflict zones.

"For now, Dutch jihadis are heavily focused on Syria, but that could change," its report said. "It could involve existing conflict zones likes Yemen and Iraq, but even potential new zones like Egypt - including Sinai, or Libya." Would-be fighters in Middle East conflicts are growing more skilled at evading the attention of authorities, buying return tickets to the region and posing as tourists, it said. "News from conflict zones in Syria is spread rapidly via chat, Facebook and email within hours or even in real time within a jihadi inner circle in the Netherlands," said the report. It added that the number of jihadist publications in Dutch had increased sharply over the past two years.

The French citizen suspected of shooting dead four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May spent time fighting in Syria. Earlier this month, German intelligence said some 2,000 Europeans had gone to Syria to fight alongside Islamist rebels.
© Reuters


Headlines June 2014

Czech Republic: Online hate mainly attacks Roma

In five European states, leading personalities have joined an online campaign for an internet without hatred, labeling hateful posts they find during online discussion with the symbol #MASTURHATE. In connection with the transition of media outlets to an online format, the number of hateful contributions being posted there today is unequivocally rising.

26/6/2014- Online hate is not just annoying and insulting, it has a dangerous influence on children and youth in particular. "Hateful posts in the Czech and Slovak online environments are mostly about minorities, mainly the LGBT community and the Romani minority," says Patrik Banga, a journalist who administered online discussion forums for the news server for many years before becoming an editor at public broadcaster Czech Television. "When Romani people are being discussed, the posts without at least some tinge of racism are in the minority. What's more, only a negligible percentage of the purely racist posts are ever reported to administrators, just a few out of the hundreds that exist," says Banga.

The editor points out that regional editions of various media play a specific role in the Czech environment. "Regionally-reported topics are written in a much more emphatic style," Banga says, "and my impression is that the editors of those publications lack detachment which means the discussion posts are similar." For this reason, the ROMEA NGO has launched the international campaign "I don't masturhate" in the Czech Republic, the aim of which is to contribute toward creating a friendly, tolerant online environment and elimating hate online. "Through this campaign we want to activate internet users to ridicule the hate they encounter and to reject it by tagging hateful commentaries with #MASTURHATE. Through this apt and simple label, they will help identify haters and sideline them during discussions," explains Zdeněk Ryšavý, director of ROMEA o.p.s.

"We are targeting this campaign mainly at young people, which is why we are now launching advertising for it through Facebook," Ryšavý says. Czech actors Bára Hrzánová and Václav Neužil have filmed video advertisements for the campaign that can be seen at, and Jarmila Balážová, press spokesperson for the Czech Government Human Rights Minister, has also supported the campaign.

"As an educated journalist, I have worked with language my whole life and I know its enormous power and strength, how it can help target hatred against someone you want to label. What bothers me most of all online is that lists are being published there - of gays, Jewish people, left-wingers, Romani people, they'll be posting lists of bald people next, who knows - and those who conceal their identities online under the cover of anonymity think they can manipulate us this way. They think we're so stupid we can't figure out what's going on. That's why I would like to ask everyone who shares this opinion to use the #MASTURHATE name to identify online hate speech. You can also record a video for the campaign or even invent gestures like the footballers do. I think this will help us all a great deal and we might even have fun at the same time," Balážová says in a video for the campaign.

The campaign is also welcomed by PhDr. Štefan Matula, PhD. of the Research Institute of Child Psychology and Pathopsychology, who says the following: "Behind almost every act of online hatred is actual hatred, a deep, intensive emotion expressing bias, enmity, and resistance toward another person or group of people - even inanimate objects in our environment. This is linked to the need to harm others and cause them pain. On the other hand, usually when we hate someone, what we hate in them is something that is directly a part of us as well. The campaign that is beginning now is a big chance to provide the people who are compensating their hatred in this way with some feedback and understanding of the deeper connections here."

Lawyer and political scientist Štěpán Výborný, in his study called "Freedom of Speech versus Hate Speech Online" (Svoboda slova versus nenávistné projevy na internetu), the only Czech study on this topic, has written the following: "The internet has been used not only by members of radical subcultures who can propagate their ideas at significantly less of a cost to themselves through it, but also by persons who only feel hatred toward a certain minority, which in the Czech Republic is typically toward Romani people. The notion of impunity and total license (without realizing that this is still a social interaction) that is inextricably linked to anonymity has led to a massive dissemination of hateful statements wherever the internet facilitates it - in commentaries about news items, when communicating information through social networks (Facebook, YouTube), when sending mass e-mail messages, etc. Hatred has de facto become a regular component of the discussion of the issue of minorities here, despite the fact that most preachers of hatred would never utter such words during a public discussion because of shame or fear of social opprobrium."

"The word MASTURHATE was creating by changing one letter," explains Michal Moravec, one of the two authors of the original project entered into the Cannes Young Lions Competition 13 PR contest, "we were looking for words similar to hate and we discovered 'masturhate'. It completely fits what we are trying to say." Michal Hornický, a co-author of the project, says: "For me, a hater is a person who blindly comments on everything going on around him that doesn't correspond to his own convictions and values in a negative way that is not constructive."

#masturhate is an international campaign of the Slovak branch of the Open Society Foundations – Nadácie otvorenej spoločnosti, in collaboration with ROMEA o.p.s. (Czech Republic), Prospect Hungary (Prospect Műhely Alapítvány), M-MEDIA Diversity Mediawatch (Austria) and the Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci (Italy); more information about the campaign is available at

© Romea.

Facebook erases Czech hate page against Islam, other racist pages still running

23/6/2014- A xenophobic Facebook page called "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" ("Islám v České republice nechceme") has been blocked by the company after acquiring 65 000 fans. Administrators of the social networking site seem to have responded to several years' worth of Facebook users warning them about its hateful content. Other hateful, racist profiles, however, continue to run on Facebook. "We have done our best mainly to report individual posts - most of them were photos or offensive, xenophobic commentaries. We hoped that if Facebook had to remove most of that content, then over time the whole profile would be removed, and that's what has happened," Tereza Cajthamlová, who began to report the page together with her friends approximately a year ago, told news server

"I am personally bothered by any kind of hate speech on Facebook, such as comments, graphics, or photographs aiming to deny someone their rights, whether because of their religion, their sexual orientation, or their skin color. That page was accumulating such materials. Recently I was most bothered by photographs of Muslims being posted there - people who had no idea someone had taken a picture of them on the street. The administrators of the page and the Islamophobes who visited it were writing rather tasteless comments beneath the photos," Cajthamlová said. The anti-Islam activists, however, immediately established a new page. It now has more than 2 000 fans.

Blogger Jan Cemper warns that the page may not have been removed from Facebook because of racial hatred, but could have been removed for posting unpermitted advertising. "Today I received some essential information, which is that the blocking of those pages may not have been due to their Islamophobia, much of which was on the edge of criminal liability, but may have been due to commercial sales taking place on those pages. In some cases, items from the workshop of the famous photographer of nudes Jiří Sláma were being promoted," Cemper writes on his blog.

Sláma has produced a t-shirt reading "This is my home... You've come to my country... You are the minority, so respect my culture and faith, my customs and laws!" ("Já jsem tady doma… Přišel jsi do mé země… Jsi zde menšinou, proto respektuj mou kulturu i víru, mé zvyky a zákony…!") and those who set up the "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" Facebook page got him to agree to give them CZK 40 for each each t-shirt sold through them. Cemper reports that they posted the following status update to the page: "Buy this shirt at www..., or the English version at www....! Use the code "IvČRN" when ordering and CZK 40 will go to resisting the Islamicization of our beautiful country."

It is against Facebook's terms to place an ad for a third party on a profile. The company has long been criticized for its lax approach to pages with hateful content. The removal of openly racist pages from Facebook can take weeks. This was recently acknowledged by lawyer Gabriella Csehová, who is the Strategic Director of Facebook for Central and Eastern Europe. "We are aware that not everything is completely optimal. It's extremely demanding to provide effective feedback, to communicate directly with you as to why we have made a certain decision. We have more than one billion users. We're addressing how to arrange all this technically, how to ensure that our responses will not just be automatic replies. We are systematically improving the system and in the near future you will see further developments in this area," Csehová said in an interview for the Czech news server

Facebook has three security teams - in Austin, Texas, in Hyderabad, India, and in Dublin, Ireland - who follow all its pages 24 hours a day. "Reports of hate speech are read by human beings because these are matters of context in which one and the same word can mean something completely different in another context. Naturally we also have technical ways to assist this," Csehová says. Recently several openly hateful pages against Romani people have been created in the Czech language on Facebook. Other users have reported them to the company, but nothing is being done about them. The same automatic reply is always sent to those who report such content: "We have audited the page you reported as containing hate speech or symbols and have determined that it does not violate our Community Principles". Facebook recommends reporting individual comments in such cases.

The editors of tested that procedure recently on a photo of Adolf Hitler accompanied by a text reading "There will be enough gas for all of you!!! Once we destroy the Romea company we will use the money they have stolen from the state and the taxpayers to buy it." Even that post was not evaluated as hate speech by the administrators of Facebook. Last Saturday the ROMEA orgnaization called on its own Facebook page for several hate-filled profiles to be reported, openly anti-Romani racist pages such as "Zbavme Beztrestně ČR cikánů" (Let's rid the Czech Republic of gypsies with impunity"), "Nechceme živit Romské obyvatelstvo" ("We don't want to feed the Romani population") or "Boogymen in Europe" (Bubáci V Evropě).
© Romea.


UK: Who is the number one target of hate speech on Twitter?

For the last year or so, a computer program called HateBot has been scouring Twitter, finding and logging "hate speech". The data it has collected from the UK is a potent reminder of the casual racism that still exists in our society.

18/6/2014- first covered the Hatebase project in April 2013. The project, which is a database of hate speech aimed at helping NGOs spot areas of growing conflict, now involves a bot that scrapes data from Twitter, HateBot, and a program for processing the information, HateBrain. We asked Hatebase to pull out information from its database about hate speech in the UK. What the data suggests is that the most common hate speech in the UK derive from insults used against the Traveller or Gypsy community.

A brief disclaimer: the rest of this post contains offensive words. While we have avoided using them gratuitously, for the purposes of clarity we have not censored any of them with asterisks.

"Gypo" and "pikey" were the first and second most common terms collected by Hatebase in the UK, with the two accounting for 15 percent of all hate speech. The numbers don't reflect whether the terms were tweeted specifically at members of the Traveller or Gypsy community, or used generally as an insult. Third was "nigger", followed by "yardie" and "cunt". The top ten terms, which include their variants, are below in full.
1 - Gypo: 11%
2 - Pikey: 4%
3 - Nigger: 4%
4 - Yardie: 4%
5 - Cunt: 3%
6 - Charver: 2%
7 - Teuchter: 2%
8 - Curry muncher: 2%
9 - Plastic paddy: 2%
10 - Fag: 2%

Some of the terms are more easily apparent as hate speech, an obvious example being "nigger", whereas it's arguable that the term "cunt" is more commonly used in the UK as a general insult rather than a term of gendered hate speech, which it obviously is. Others will only be recognisable to people from certain parts of the UK. "Charver" is primarily used in the north-east of England and was the focus of a 2005 BBC Inside Out episode, whereas "teuchter" is a Scottish insult that the Urban Dictionary describes as "basically the Scottish equivalent of an American hick". No doubt some of these terms will be the subject of controversy about how insulting they actually are, especially when compared with each other, but the aim of HateBrain isn't to make subjective calls about the offensive nature of insults.

"We capture any term which broadly categorises a specific group of people based on malignant, qualitative and/or subjective attributes -- particularly if those attributes pertain to ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, disability or class," says Timothy Quinn, Director of Technology at the Sentinel Project, which runs the Hatebase project. The most common category of hate speech in the UK was that relating to ethnicity, followed by nationality and then class, which is broadly in line with Hatebase's global data.

The explicit purpose of the Hatebase project is to detect the use of hate speech in specific areas as a potential precursor to genocide (hate speech as a dehumanising tool in the run-up to mass slaughter is a well-evidenced phenomenon). For that reason, HateBrain only picks up geolocated tweets, which account for a tiny minority of the total number of tweets sent on Twitter. This inevitably narrows down the pool of data to people who either aren't aware that their tweets are geolocated or are comfortable with making their location public (that decision could be informed or uninformed). Either way, it's a small subset of Twitter's users, who are in turn a small subset of the total population.

Furthermore, HateBrain is designed to search for terms that have already been flagged or inputted on As a result, there's the possibility it will miss certain terms. Finally, it isn't a database of insults -- terms that don't denigrate specific groups of people because of their "ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, disability or class" don't qualify. So the data is limited and on its own doesn't give a comprehensive picture of hate speech in UK -- its creators don't claim that it does. "Although we're capturing a whole lot of data, the value is for NGOs to do more targeted searches with other data points," says Quinn. The database is intended to be just one of many data sources NGOs can use to make decisions about where to allocate their resources, he adds: "[At the Sentinel Project] we've got to figure out where we can afford to put a team. We're making those decisions on data from the media, on Hatebase data and other data points."

The UK's data, he says, doesn't show an uptick in hate speech targeting a particular community. Though not downplaying the seriousness of any hate speech, he says it's broadly similar to what you see in Canada, where the project is based, and the US. The tool is aimed at preventing genocide and the UK is thankfully not at risk of that. But the presence of "gypo" and "pikey", terms that are used to suggest stealing or poverty and that denigrate Gypsy and Traveller communities, at the very top of the hate speech charts for the UK is at least a reminder of what has been called our last "socially acceptable form of racism".
© Wired UK


Britain Furst: the halal Ray-ban-wearing far right Facebook mockers

Britain Furst have been mocking the pretensions of BNP offshoot Britain First on Facebook - despite having their page reported by the far right group


An image from Britain Furst, a parody of the far-right Britain First organisation's Facebook page.

20/6/2014- You know that feeling when one of your friends shares something politically unsavoury on Facebook? It's a common problem, and when Geoff Stevens started seeing posts from the BNP offshoot Britain First turning up on his feed, he decided it was ripe for parody. Britain First has nearly half a million 'likes' on its Facebook page, with many presumably unaware that they are sharing material disseminated by an organisation set up by ex-BNP members with, as Channel 4 reports, an anti-Muslim agenda. Its posts range from tributes to the armed forces and the Royal Family, to complaints about mass immigration and calls to 'Ban the Burka'. But there are also surreal posts, such as this tribute to the 'Great British Lollipop Men And Women'. "When I saw Britain First, I genuinely thought it was a parody page of far right groups," says Stevens. "And then I realised it was serious. And I thought, why has no-one started a parody page?"

The resulting page, Britain Furst, has brought social media users' attention to, amongst other things, the dangers of Halal sunglasses and the need to bring back hanging. Though obviously satirical, Facebook removed the page's banner image after a complaint from Britain First. They replaced it with one starring grumpy cat, with the tagline: 'palatable racism for ignorant Englanders'. Some have reported the Britain First page for hate speech, Stevens noted the irony of a far right group attempting to block criticism, but has no wish to see it taken down. "I'd happily advocate what they're doing in terms of free speech, but everything else kind of scares me.”
• The name of the Facebook page's author has been changed to protect his identity
© The Guardian


As FIFA attempts to curb racism at the World Cup, a look at hate speech laws worldwide

20/6/2014- Reports of racist and xenophobic slurs against players and fans have continued to emerge during the World Cup. Two fans were arrested last weekend after chanting racist remarks during the match featuring Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina. In an attempt to combat hate speech during the tournament, FIFA and Brazilian authorities initiated an anti-racism campaign using the hashtag #SayNoToRacism. Hate speech is taken seriously in Brazil, where racist or religiously intolerant speech or actions are prohibited by law and carry penalties including imprisonment. Brazil is not the only country with a law that penalizes hate speech. A new Pew Research analysis finds hate speech laws in 89 countries around the world (45%), according to 2012 data. In some countries, the laws protect only certain religious or social groups, while others have broader laws, covering words or actions that insult, denigrate or intimidate a person or group based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity or other traits.

Although these laws are on the books, in some countries they are not enforced. However, in countries where penalties are imposed for hate speech, they often include fines or short-term jail sentences. A spectator in Spain was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of throwing a banana at a Brazilian player, and in 2012, a man in the United Kingdom received a jail sentence for posting racist and offensive comments on Twitter after a player collapsed on the field. Laws against hate speech are most common in Europe, where 84% of countries (38 of 45) have such laws or policies (as of 2012). In 2008, the European Union passed a framework decision to combat hate speech and other expressions of racism and xenophobia – although member states have yet to consistently enforce the decision. In France, inciting racial or ethnic hatred is illegal, and noncitizens may be deported for such actions.

Some European countries have hate speech laws in place that include policies specifically targeting soccer and other sporting events. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the Football Offences Act (initially passed in 1991) prohibits racist chanting at football matches. In Spain, it is illegal to incite hatred because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, nationality or sexual orientation, and athletic teams and stadiums can face sanctions for “actions that disparage religion if committed by professional athletic clubs, players or fans during sporting events,” according to the U.S. State Department. Similar measures are in effect in nine of the 20 countries in the Middle East-North Africa region (45%) and more than a third of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region (38%, or 19 of 50). In Indonesia, for example, it is illegal to incite hatred toward individuals or community groups because of race, religion or ethnicity.

Hate speech laws were present in a quarter of countries in sub-Saharan Africa as of 2012 (12 of the 48 countries) and about three-in-ten countries in the Americas (31%, 11 of 35). In the United States, courts have traditionally struck down attempts to limit hate speech. Most recently, during a 2011 case involving one of the Westboro Baptist Church’s anti-gay protests at a military funeral (Snyder v. Phelps), the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. Athletes occasionally encounter racist comments in the United States, often on Twitter.

This analysis is based on our ongoing research on global restrictions on religion. For more on our sources and procedures, see our most recent report on the topic.
© Pew Research Center


INACH - International Network Against CyberHate

The object of INACH, the International Network Against Cyberhate is to combat discrimination on the Internet. INACH is a foundation under Dutch Law and is seated in Amsterdam. INACH was founded on October 4, 2002 by and Magenta Foundation, Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet.