Dealing with Online Hate

In J-Wire, Australian Jewish News Agency, September 24, 2014,

The Online Hate Prevention Institute has hosted an event to highlight the rising antisemitism on social media and to launch tools to help combat it.

At the core of the event was the beta-launch of an online tool developed by OHPI to report and monitor online hate on social media. The tool enables antisemitism as well as other forms of hate to be reported. The event also launched a booklet to empower people in responding to online antisemitism in particular. The booklet included examples of antisemitism and details of how, and when, to publicly speak up against it. The booklet also included guidance on report online hate on Facebook in particular both to Facebook and through OHPI’s new tool. All participants were given a free copy of the booklet to take home with them. OHPI will soon be making the book available for sale as an e-book, with the proceeds helping to support OHPI’s work combating online hate.

The event, which was attended by over 80 people. The two new tools were launched by David Southwick, the MP for Caulfield and the Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Emergency Services. He emphasized the importance of monitoring online antisemitism, and congratulated OHPI for taking the lead in highlighting the problem. After Mr Southwick launched the online monitoring tool, “Fight Against Hate”, attendees were able to register and become its first users.

Dr Andre Oboler, OHPI’s CEO and the primary creator of the online tool, then discussed how to use the software and its significance. Fight Against Hate allows the registered members to report any hate content they encounter on Facebook or YouTube, the two largest social media platforms in the world. Users first report the content to the platforms directly, then post a link to the reported content into the OHPI software. The software records the link so the veracity of the report can be checked, and monitor the time taken by Facebook or YouTube to remove it.

The data on hate speech which users report through the tool will help governments, NGOs and academics understand the nature, varieties, extent and trends in online hate. This in turn can inform the policies, programs and practices of key stakeholders in combating online hate. The tool will also make social media companies more publicly accountable for the hate speech that is propagated on their platforms. Currently, only the social media companies know the hate speech reported to them. But Fight Against Hate will create an external record of this content.

The software has already been endorsed by the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism, an initiative led by the Israeli Government to combat rising antisemitism around the world. Dr Oboler is a member of the Forum’s steering committee and for the last five years has co-chaired the Global Forum’s Working Group on online antisemitism along with Adv David Matas from Canada. In the first 72 hours after the event over 75 items of antisemitic content were report through the tool.

We are now actively looking to run a repeat of the antisemitism event in other parts of Australia. We are also looking to use this event as a model for further events, focused on other forms of online hate, to be run first in Melbourne and then around the country. If you know organisations that may wish to support such events, or donors who may be willing to help cover the costs involved, please ask them to contact us.

For now, additional users will be added to the system in October and you can request access by registering here. For news about the release of the e-book, future events and other updates, please subscribe to our mailing list and join us on Facebook. Media inquiries can be made via e-mail. You can also watch a short video to learn more about what we do.