When people in the internet world act irresponsibly or immaturely, the cyber world can become a place full of swear words, sarcasm, jeering and mudslinging. “We are in an age when we can express ourselves about everything, anywhere. It is an age that enables us to do things easily. We are behind the keyboard. We talk about anything we want. This problem becomes more serious when an unusual incident occurs in our society. What is worse is that some people who tell others to stop using hate speech also use a form of hate speech to attack others.” So says WuthichaiKritsanaprakornkij, editor of GM magazine.
Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Communication Artshas published a research paper entitled “Regulating Media That Spreads Hate Speech”, which surveyed onlinehate speech on three platforms including webboards, websites and social media. The study found the most prevalent hate speech stemmed from differences in political ideologyand was mostly intended to instigate hatred against members of target groups. The language used in the comments aimed to accuse, blame, condemn, expose, insult, degrade, ridicule, and talk down to a person or a group. The it-serves-you-right idiom as well as likening people to non-human creatures, were also common.
In a research entitled “Hate Speech & Harmful Information : Alternatives for Political Response” by CharnchaiChaisukkosol of Mahidol University's Research Centre on Peace Building, the author said concerns about harm inflicted by hateful speech had prompted several foreign governments to implement censorship. However, in civilised societies whose people adhere to freedom of expression, they felt that hate speech should not be blocked on grounds that it did not meet the moral standards in their society. Therefore, the only condition to outlaw hate speech was when it was used to incite physical violence against other people.
Charnchai’s research also discussed multiple alternatives for tackling hate speech. For example, a counter-speech approach designed to counter online hateful comments through sensible, watertight and reliable arguments. Another approach mentioned in his paper was electronic civil disobedience (ECD), which is a non-violent online protest formaimed to achieve social or political change.A common act of ECD is staging virtual sit-inswhere participants simultaneously access a target website with the purpose of disrupting its normal operations temporarily. In 1995, a group called the Strano Network conducted the first virtual sit-in against the French government’s websites to protest its nuclear test policies.
Another alternative is culture jamming-a form of political and social activism that involves practicing symbolic protest against the expansion and domination of commercial environments into public and private life, using different media platforms such as billboards. Oneof the well-known culture jammersis Princess Hijab, Paris's most elusive street artist, whopaintsveils on characters on subway advertisements to convey her messages, one of them about a burqa ban.