Regulating Misandry: Expanding the Protection Against Online Hate Speech

Regulating Misandry: Expanding the Protection Against Online Hate Speech

Maria Mpasdeki (NGO Solidarity Now, Athens, Greece) and Zafeiris Tsiftzis (University of Bolton, UK)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch039

Abstract

Internet and social media became a significant weapon to disseminate and share information around the globe. These digital tools are also being misused for hate-crime activities. Hate crimes are criminal offences motivated by prejudice and committed against someone's identity. Women, children, disabled people, and refugees are often being targeted because of their different characteristics. A type of hate crime can also be online hate speech, or “cyberhate.” A quite recent research revealed that men can also be considered as victims of cyberhate. In particular, an Australian survey demonstrated that 54% of the victims of online abuse were men. The survey also pointed out that men were often subjected to abuse and insults, trolling, and malicious gossip and/or rumours. The present contribution reviews the notion of “misandry” and how it is expressed in the digital world and emphasises the need for protective measures not only for women but also for men.
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Background

Internet has the ability to cross borders, to repeal the existing distances and to set aside the communication barriers (Johnson & Post, 1996, pp. 1347 – 1402). Moreover, internet and social media have become a significant weapon to disseminate and share information around the globe. Still, these digital tools are also being misused for hate-crime activities.

Hate crimes are defined as criminal offences motivated by prejudice and committed against someone's identity, such as race, national origin, religion and/or other characteristics. The perpetrator of a hate crime selects the victim based on its membership of a particular group. In some cases that the crime involves damage to property, and in these cases the property is chosen as well because of its association with a victim group. Furthermore, prejudice or bias could be defined as a preconceived negative opinion, intolerance or hatred directed at a particular group. The group must share a common characteristic that is immutable or fundamental, such as “race”, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or other characteristics (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, 2014, pp. 21 - 22).

Since internet became very popular, ‘’cyberhate’’ has emerged as a type of hate speech (Williams, 2006). ‘’Cyberhate’’ has been manifested as the hateful speech used in an online communication. In particular, cyberhate is connected with social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter (Gerstenfeld, 2013; Awan & Zempi, 2016). Unfortunately, there is not a globally accepted curre nt definition of what ‘’cyberhate’’ consists. For instance, the United States Anti-Defamation League defined cyberhate as ‘’any use of electronic communications technology to spread anti-Semitic, racist, bigoted, extremist or terrorist messages or information. To these, electronic communications technologies belongs the Internet as well as other computer and cell phone-based information technologies’’ (Anti-Defamation League, 2010). Yet, most of the cyber hate definitions are based on the definition of hate speech or rather hate crime itself.

‘’Cyberhate crimes’’ and hate crimes in general target groups, such as women and children, disabled people and refugees. However, a recent study showed that men can also be considered as victims of online hate crimes/cyberhate. The Australian survey demonstrated that 54% of the victims of online abuse were men (Hunt, 2016). The survey also pointed out that men were often subjected to abuse and insults, trolling and malicious gossip and/or rumours.

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