Free speech will be a casualty of the social media war against hate speech

Have you ever heard a person say “This isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech,” or “When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” In America there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever they are ) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas.

One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or socialism or democrats or republicans.


Social Media however have banded together to create an Orwellian world where free speech that is disapproved of is labeled hate speech and is replaced with European Union sanctioned speech ie propaganda ( counter-narrative. )

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have “signed up” to a new European Union (EU) “Code of Conduct”, pledging to help censor and “criminalise” perceived “illegal online hate speech” and “promot[e] independent counter-narratives” that the EU favors.

I fear that these “counter-narratives ” will be about ideas rather than people. As the below graphic illustrates, people have rights not ideas.


It should not be labelled ” hate speech ” if it is open and free discussion about ideas. The new code appears to support this definition.

The IT Companies and the European Commission also stress the need to defend the right to freedom of expression, which, as the European Court of Human Rights has stated, “is applicable not only to “information” or “ideas” that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”.

In reality however the practical application is not as clear cut as you would expect given the above definition. The other day I wrote about a facebook page being shut down for “hate speech. ” The page which was about Islamic genital mutilation for both men and women was clearly a page that discussed Religious/Cultural ideas.

So what exactly is the code meant to be targeting?

Illegal hate speech, as defined by the Framework Decision …means all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

The facebook page on Islamic genital mutilation did not incite violence or hatred. It did promote genital mutilation for Muslims which many would see as a violent or hateful act, but nowhere did it say that this should be forced on unwilling participants. If the code had been applied correctly it would not have been shut down but it was.

Now that I have established that the code is not being correctly applied let’s look at the “counter narrative.”

Broader society and in particular civil society organisations (CSOs) also have a crucial role to play in the field of preventing the rise of hatred online, by developing counter-narratives promoting non-discrimination, tolerance and respect, including through awareness-raising

The IT Companies support the European Commission and EU Member States in the effort to respond to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally.

If it walks like censorship and talks like censorship then it probably is censorship. If they are talking about suppressing viral items then they are censoring the internet. If ideas like the promotion of FCM on the FGM facebook page are going to be labelled ” hate speech” then ideas are going to be censored.

The spread of illegal hate speech online not only negatively affects the groups or individuals that it targets, it also negatively impacts those who speak out for freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination in our open societies and has a chilling effect on the democratic discourse on online platforms.

The Joint Statement issued by the extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council of 24 March 2016 on the terrorist attacks in Brussels underlines that “the Commission will intensify work with IT companies, notably in the EU Internet Forum, to counter terrorist propaganda and to develop by June 2016 a code of conduct against hate speech online”.

It is interesting that they talk about countering terrorist propaganda when in reality this code is about countering all speech that they label as hate speech not just terrorism related posts.Who decides what the ” counter-narrative ” is going to be? Who decides what speech is approved for public consumption? Apparently the European Union decides.

…The IT Companies, taking the lead on countering the spread of illegal hate speech online, have agreed with the European Commission on a code of conduct setting the following public

The IT Companies to have in place clear and effective processes to review notifications regarding illegal hate speech on their services so they can remove or disable access

…The IT Companies to encourage the provision of notices and flagging of content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct at scale by experts…

What does hateful conduct mean exactly? If I like or share an image or an idea or a post on Social Media that is later labelled hate speech, is that going to be considered hateful conduct or do I have to be the person who originally posted it? Already we have seen people lose their jobs in Western countries because they liked something on social media that was then used to force them to resign. By criminalising speech, little old ladies who share or like a post on facebook could unwittingly become criminals because they do not share the thought police’s European Union’s view on something.

… They also agree to further discuss how to promote transparency and encourage counter and alternative narratives. To this end, regular meetings will take place and a preliminary assessment will be reported to the High Level Group on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and all forms of intolerance by the end of 2016.

All forms of intolerance huh? That is a very broad brush. There are always going to be at least two different points of view about an idea. Depending on which side of the idea you are standing on, the other side can easily be described as intolerant of your point of view.

It is inevitable that free speech is going to be a civilian casualty in the social media war against so called ” hate speech.” The European Union will be deciding which side of every idea is the correct side. If you find yourself on the wrong side of an idea you will be shut down and a “counter-narrative” will be spun by them. It was already happening long before this code was created. Many of the facebook sites I follow that discuss Islam for example have been shut down repeatedly for holding a point of view unacceptable to the Social Media barons who control the internet.Now they will also have the backing of the EU. The censorship of the internet is only going to get worse.



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  • Brian Smaller

    One has to remember that few countries in Europe have ever had a long tradition of free speech or democracy so it is no surprise that the EU wants to control and stifle free speech. Another reason for Britain to leave the festering mess that is the EU.

    • shykiwibloke

      It would appear that speaking out against the EU itself could contravene the rules. Might sound far fetched right now but that is the direction in which these things creep.
      Europe has been conquered from the inside it seems.

  • waldopepper

    free speech is being systematically shut down all over the world. im not a conspiracy theorist, but i am educated, intelligent and middle aged, so i see it happening (you cant avoid it) and i wonder what we are being prepared for. several members of my family fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy – i was about to say “today” but given that freedom of speech is already been eroded, i should say “yesterday”. i fear the world may be edging towards totalitarian regimes. certainly in some form.

    • RealKiwi

      You’re not wrong, I don’t generally don’t like to think in terms of conspiracy but if you look at most of the major institutions (establishment) and governments they make policy around some common theme Dreamt up by the likes of the UN without any real local debate. UN Agenda 21 is an example with local councils.
      So yes the term conspiracy applies and I do believe there is often a hidden agenda.

  • sandalwood789

    The invasion of Europe and the destruction of free speech. Two great reasons to get rid of the EU.

  • Old Dig

    I hope this means the death of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in the near future. Remember Bebo and MySpace? Me neither.

    • jcpry

      I take it you are not serious? These are communication tools that can be used for things other than social chit-chat. YouTube in particular is a great marketing tool and Facebook is also very useful in the same way.

      • Old Dig

        At the moment they are, but I think they need some competition to knock them back a bit. If YouTube (Google) gets too restrictive on people’s rights, it is only a matter of time before a better alternative shows up. I know Amazon is giving it a go, there will be others.

  • Andinz

    Not just Europe. Have a look at US House Resolution 569 which is due to be considered this year in Obama’s time. At last count 144 Dems 0 Repubs sponsoring it.

  • JEL51

    Bring on Trump, bring back Abbott and bring on Brexit…..Milo covers ‘why’ in clip.
    Fast forward the first hour as the Left demonstrators were preventing the audience from getting into the hall to listen to one of the most ‘reasoned’ speakers of late. Caution !! – language and honesty.

    • Boondecker

      Milo reference to the noisy social justice warrior types, “It’s starting to dawn on them, they’re starting to get the message, that saying ‘RACIST!’ is not going to shut people up anymore. It doesn’t shut me up. It doesn’t shut anyone in this audience up. Now, you’ve got to come with facts!”.

      Brilliant! Just Brilliant!

      • JEL51

        It was difficult to hear much of what he had to say in this clip, other ones have been clearer. Loved the spontaneous response when others made it through the demonstrators.
        I like also …”They have controlled the media for 30yrs………lost it’s power to shape elections”….Which is exactly what we saw here during our last election. (Exciting times, at last)

  • Johnno

    Interesting question…….

    • Boondecker

      I see it as an exploration of the abject irony of what is considered free speech. The “free” part of free speech is a relative term determined according to your audience.

  • Maria

    Take a look at the Alliance of Civilisations, a group in the UN. They are the heart of the drive on behalf I think of the OIC countries. The aim is to ‘diffuse’ tensions ‘between’ various groups of fundamentalists. That is how it is proposed. Essentially fundamentalists are anyone who propose a truth over and against others. Of course the prime target are negative commentaries on Islam. These fundamentalist claims against Islam incite Islamists and make the terror issue grow.

    Islam in the East has nothing to do with any of this other than support the AoC efforts in the West. Islam in the West need do nothing other than stay very quiet on the topic. Western pundits will heartily dismantle their own critics of Islam as hate mongerers.

    This is serious and has serious political power behind it.

  • RealKiwi

    I believe in free speech But……..As Mark Steyn put it free speech is the stuff after the but! Salman Rushdie said the same thing, if you can’t say those things then your not free to speak you mind.
    Hate Speech laws will and do get used to silence dissent which is totalitarianism