The Hon Paul Fletcher MP prepared to launch the Fight Against Hate online reporting systemOn the evening of December 9th, as International Human Rights Day grew close, The Hon Paul Fletcher MP pressed the big red button to launch “Fight Against Hate” a new reporting tool created by Australia’s Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI). Mr Fletcher, who has headed the Australian Government’s push on online safety, praised the new tool and the change it will make to efforts to combat online hate and the harm it can cause, particularly to children.

The launch event also features a panel discussion with representatives of some of the groups regularly subjected to attacks online. The panel included Talitha Stone whose campaign against US rapper Tyler the Creator saw her subjected to thousands of death and rape threats. Also the panel was Julie Nathan, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s Research Officer and the author of the 2014 report into antisemitism in Australia. Representatives of the Indigenous Australian community, Muslim community, the peak body for ethnic communities, and the peak body representing parents were also on the panel.

The software, which people can now register a free account with at http://fightagainsthate.com, allows members of the public to report online content that contains a wide variety of hate speech. The software currently handles report of content on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and the hate can take the form of antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, misogyny, racism against Indigenous Australians, homophobia, cyber-bullying and others forms of hate. People using the software are asked to first report the content to social media companies directly, then to report it through the software so that the response of the social media companies can be reviewed and measured. So far 35 organisations has signed up as supporters of the software, and these supporters, and more which are in the pipeline, including from Government, will be able to access the content the public reports through the system.

“This system will empower people and ensure the time they put into reporting online hate is not wasted. Even if a platform provider rejects their complaint initially, once the item is in Fight Against Hate, human rights organisations, government agencies, or the media may choose to follow up on that item. Rather than being forgotten, online hate that is not resolved may be seen as a failure of self regulation by the social media companies. The longer the incident stays unresolved, the greater the failure The new system will empower not only the public, but key stake holders like governments as well.” Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, explained.

Jeremy Jones AM, a co-chair of the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism explained that the software had the support of the Global Forum and the Israeli Government. He explained that a report into the antisemitic data gathered through the system will be released at the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism in Jerusalem in May 2015.

The launch event was attended by 90 people from a wide range of community organisations, human rights organisations, government agencies and members of the public. With Fight Against Hate now live, the next challenge is building up a sufficiently large user base of people reporting online hate.