Technology, especially the internet has generally changed the way people interact. Social media platforms have enabled people to communicate anytime from anywhere in the world. There are high chances that you are active at least on one social media platform.
Have you ever been harassed? Or has someone ever been bullied for expressing your opinion? People who tend to speak loudly about inequality in society tend to be victims of hate speech.
The UN Human Rights Council this week held a forum to discuss issues affecting minority groups and ways of tackling hate speech around the globe. The Entity singled out the LGBTI people as the most vulnerable to online hostility.
It is not the first time the United Nations has come out to speak against hate speech. But the question is: will member states and the society in general help in taming the vice?
The online space has been revolutionary when it comes to building communities among LGBTI people. But while they have managed to express themselves through online platforms, they have also been exposed to a lot of discrimination and hate speech.
Being a target of online hostility, particularly for who you are or what you stand for can be distressing. For any member of the LGBTI community, hate speech is something they have to deal with irrespective of whether you are a woman, a person of color, living with HIV/AIDS Among others.
Such actions are sometimes indirectly encouraged by state officials. They take advantage of various social media platforms to degrade other people for political expediency. This is a dangerous move because it breeds an environment of hostility for others.
It is important to note that hostile narratives didn’t come with the internet. What the internet has done is to expose a large group of people through social media platforms to all manner of hostilities. Unfortunately, the LGBTI people have borne the greatest brunt of such hostilities and discrimination.
The United Nations Forum on minority issues has urged U.S. tech companies to ensure that there’s equal access to the digital world. Unluckily, hate speech has let down such efforts. It is a way of harassing LGBTI people and other marginalized groups.
It is evident that going back to the closest or withdrawing from online space will not solve the problem. What is unfortunate is to see other people endure constant abuse and the perpetrators walking away scot-free. There’s no better time for States and social media companies to act than now!
Online platforms should be held accountable for what happens within their platforms. They have the responsibility to monitor harmful content that passes through their platforms and take decisive action against the perpetrators.
Social media business relies on data analysis. They should be able to investigate and determine how hate speech is to certain communities. States would be in a position to act easily if they had access to this data.
This is the point: you are entitled to your opinion but you have no right to destroy others in the process. While freedom of speech is a fundamental right, it should not be used to perpetuate hatred and intolerance. Everyone has a right but your rights should in no way infringe those of others.
Inequality is a breeding ground for hate speech. That is why it is important to promote inclusivity and justice in societies. Technology should be used as a tool to encourage netizens to share ideas and collaborate in peace-building across the world.
Tackling the issue of hate speech means preventing it from degenerating into incitement, violence, and hostility. We all have rights and no one has a right to destroy the right of another person.