Blayne Haggart, Associate Professor of Political Science at Brock, co-wrote a piece recently published in The Conversation alongside Natasha Tusikov, Assistant Professor of Criminology at York University, about the regulation of hate speech.
Haggart and Tusikov write:
When it comes to dealing with online hate speech, we’ve ended up in the worst of all possible worlds.
On the one hand, you have social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter that seem extremely reluctant to ban white supremacists and actual neo-Nazis, but enthusiastically enforce their own capricious terms of service to keep adults safe from such harmful things as the female nipple. That is, until something horrific happens, such as the Christchurch massacre, when they decide — after the fact — that some content needed to be banned.
This very much includes Facebook’s decision this week to ban white nationalist content, a move that critics have demanded for years and that Facebook could have introduced at any time.
On the other hand, you have democratic governments (leaving authoritarian countries like China out of the mix) that have become far too comfortable exerting behind-the-scenes pressure on platforms to remove content or withdraw their services in the absence of legislation or formal legal orders.
Whether it’s pressure on companies to withdraw web-hosting and payments services from Wikileaks following the leak of U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010, or the documented influence of the American government to pressure companies like Google into supposedly “industry-driven” trademark enforcement efforts, government regulation of speech is happening, but without any real accountability.
Continue reading the full article here.