Online hate to be countered

Published in the J-Wire, September 18, 2014 by J-Wire Staff

The Australian  Government will introduce new measures and legislation to deal with online hate.
Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, commented that, “The Online Hate Prevention Institute warmly welcomes the announcement by the government that plans to create an e-safety commissioner will go ahead. We’ve been calling for such a position to be created since we were founded in early 2012. We believe such a commissioner should also have powers with respect to serious content attacking adults, such as workplace bullying that occurs online or the online aspect of domestic violence situations which can lead to serious emotional harm. The proposal is a great step forward and in time we hope its remit will be expanded.”
The Online Hate Prevention Institute, which itself maintains a direct line to Facebook and other major platform providers, is currently resolving many situations which may in future be handled by the Commissioner, particularly if the remit is later expanded to include the safety of those over the age of 18. Dr Oboler said, “We have no problem with government stepping in resolve these urgent safety matter, in fact we strongly welcome it. The safety of the public is rightly the primary concern of any government. The government, on behalf of the people, have not only a right but a responsibility to intervene when the market fails and safety is put at risk. That’s what’s happening now in social media.” 
Dr Oboler went on to explain that, “OHPI does what it can, but our resources are very limited, and we are yet to receive any financial support from the government for our important work for the safety of the community. We hope that will happen in time, and that we will be able to play an important role providing data, tools and research to the new e-Safety Commissioner. Once a Commissioner is in place we will continue to work with platform providers to resolve matters which fall outside the Commissioner’s remit, and we will continue to work to prevent problems or see them resolved swiftly to avoid then being escalated to the Commissioner. If we can do that it will be to the benefit of the public, the social media platforms and the Commissioner.” 
In the last 24 hours OHPI released a press release thanking Facebook for steps the platform took to prevent a flaw in the Facebook reporting system being exploited in order to attack OHPI’s own Facebook page. OHPI’s relationship with both platform providers and government gives it a unique capacity which is helping to improve online safety in Australia. Unfortunately that improvement is being swamped as online hate around the globe, and online antisemitism in particular, have continued to rise throughout 2014.
OHPI is Australia’s only charity dedicated to the problem of online hate.