11:45 - 12:15
Regulating The Power of Hate Speech

Short thesis

How does Facebook's Newsfeed connect with the rise of online hate speech? Why is EU taking on the wrong lead in regulating this phenomenon? I will argue that the usability of hate speech is of political and economic nature. As long as this fact will not be acknowledged and addressed, hate speech will continue to grow, take new forms and be the false reason for developing internet censorship tools. A new approach to regulation is needed.


While hatespeech is illegal in the EU, a recent project financed by the European Commission warned about the “huge disparities” on what constitutes illegal hate speech among Member States. Despite issues in defining the term, EU uses 'hate speech' as the reason behind reforms such as the proposal for a revised Directive on Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS). AVMS forces platforms to delete hate speech within 24 hrs. Social media platforms would self - regulate and decide what is legal and what is not in the European context. Critics pointed at reduced freedom of expression and identified the law as new tools of censorship. How big of an issue is hate speech though?

According to psychological studies, hate is an activating emotion in humans. Online hatespeech is therefore likely to go viral and maximize online engagement. Engagement means data. Data means gold. Therefore hatespeech is a source of economic value through the data users leave behind. Moreover, hate speech is often rooted in controversial populist stunts as part of social media campaigns. Such posts are disseminated through paid ads. These payments add up to the economic value produced by hate speech.

Hate speech is not the issue. Hate speech is the outcome of a complex mechanism, profitable both in economic and political terms. How can this mechanism be addressed by legislation without impeding on the right to freely express online? Come and find out my answer.