The Internet in modern society provides a unique resource for disseminating hate speech, which, wrapped in the right to freedom of expression, creates the conditions for social injustice.
While the free exchange of opinions is conducive to the formation of truth, not everyone has equal access to the culture and market of free thought; some voices are not heard, some are buried, and some are too small to be taken seriously. On the Internet, the problem of hate speech has become more pronounced. The target of hate speech includes individuals and groups, but unlike the target of inflammatory speech, offensive speech and defamation, hate speech emphasizes the group characteristics of the target. The group has a distinct and identifiable identity when directed at a group. As we mentioned in our unit reading: “Facebook: Regulating hate speech in the Asia Pacific.” “Hate speech discriminates against people on the basis of their perceived membership of a group that is marginalized, in the context in which the speech is uttered.” (Sinpeng, 2021). All the prejudice in the world comes from stereotypes. It often brings about prejudice and discrimination, causing confusion and dilemma to individuals about their identity. People are diverse and can change anytime, depending on time, situation, knowledge, ability, and experience. Too-labelled impressions can cause disconnection and unnecessary suspicion. We should be inclusive of others. The correct perception is not to divide groups, not to do regional discrimination, not to make presumptuous classifications, and not to describe the people and things we come into contact with without labels and stereotypes. Point out here in our unit reading: “Facebook: Regulating hate speech in the Asia Pacific. “Using a “systemic discrimination approach” to explain hate speech means recognizing that when someone says something that supports and continues ongoing discrimination against a disadvantaged group, their words can be oppressive because they’re spoken in a social setting filled with that discrimination. In short, hate speech is a way of discriminating through words, harming its targets by taking away their equal chances and violating their rights, much like other discriminatory behaviors.” (Sinpeng, 2021). We must accept that stereotypes exist and that life may be unfair, but we can do something about it.
Here I briefly talk about my views on some Internet governance issues I have encountered around me. With the tentacles of the Internet society gradually spreading to all aspects of people’s lives, we are deeply influenced by the Internet culture regarding social interaction and language habits. In recent years, there have been many people who have lost their lives because of online violence. One is very painful for me: “The girl bailed out to visit her grandfather in his hospital bed because of dyed pink hair by rumours of cyber violence.” Unfortunately passed away due to depression. Many strange netizens accused her of dyeing her hair and unscrupulous personal attacks, insinuating that she had no relationship with her next of kin. This stereotypical reflection is like a mental cage, using their imprisoned thinking to kidnap others. The quickest way to ruin a girl is to create a rumour. We must admit that while the Internet has given us a lot of conveniences, it has also allowed many people to slander others at will. While resisting this kind of talk, we must admit that the cost of rumour-mongering is getting lower and lower with the development of the Internet. The development of technology is the need of the times, but the “after-effects” of rapid technological growth is that the quality of a small number of people is increasingly unable to keep up with the development of technology. The rapid growth of technology has provided them with a platform. So as civilized Internet users, I hope we can all do this:
- Do not spread rumours.
- Do not believe rumours.
- Tolerate others.
- Carefully use words.
- Think differently.
- Be considerate of others.
- Respect all the above.
“The Erosion of Focus and Human Connection: Navigating the Digital Age and Social Phobia”
For example, you are immersing yourself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. Still, now you must admit that the more time you spend online, the harder it is to focus on reading more than three or four paragraphs. Scanning reading means you do not have to read a page from left to right, from top to bottom. You can glance at it to find the relevant information that interests you. Yes, what we are losing, in the long run, is the ability to focus, contemplate and reflect. I remember when I was a child without a cell phone and had so many anime books. In junior high school, Guo Jingming was the hottest writer; I have a few of his books. Now, with the prevalence of cell phones, it is a short video era, three seconds to brush through a video, and it is difficult for us to realize that time is being brushed away. My friends around me are more or less socially phobic because every word offline has to consider the other party’s eyes, position, relationship, mood and other changes; of course, the “other party” is based on whether you know enough to define. There are many real scenarios around me:
- Acquaintances I have not seen for years are afraid to say hello, and quietly avoid.
- People are afraid to speak in front of the public and avoid speaking.
- Gathering friends for dinner while they all keep their heads down and play with their cell phones.
- Going into a store to buy something without even asking the salesperson.
- WeChat can talk clearly, never call.
- Never face-to-face when you can talk on the phone.
We all know about online dating, right? People can fall in love with WeChat. In getting to know each other to determine the relationship, only face-to-face contact is likely a few times. You can also indulge in games, catch up on dramas, and avoid interactions with people. The network forms a vicious circle of avoidance; we are on Taobao, from shopping for goods, placing orders, and at the courier counter to pick up, the whole process can be a word, a person not seen, to complete the entire shopping process; on the Meituan, only need to move their fingers, hot meals directly to the door, which is indeed convenient for their lives, but also missing the meaning of life. The epidemic, although to a certain extent, objectively constrains people’s social behaviour. However, for people with social fears, it has become one of the legitimate excuses for them to close themselves off even more. All kinds of convenient network tools are, after all, just tools. We can use them to make our work life more convenient, but we cannot be trapped in them, thus losing the ability we should have had.
“The Age of Digital Rumors and Hate Speech: Navigating the Challenges of a Rapidly Evolving Information Landscape”
Rumours have been around since the beginning of time. We are now in the 5G era, where everyone is both the transmitter and the receiver, and information is spreading faster and faster, making rumours more and more rampant. The reason why a rumour is not entirely on the publisher’s shoulders but widespread indicates that the content or emotion it conveys has aroused a common curiosity, fear, hope or recognition. “Unclear information starts rumours. People cannot tell if they are true. Rumours are not always false. “False rumour” means it is wrong. True information can spread like rumours if unconfirmed.” (Zhao et al ., 2015). There are more and more techniques to distort the truth, and the threshold is getting lower, such as post-processing and video editing. Many people have such skills, so it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the truth from the falsehood online. Why do people believe and spread rumours? Cognitively, no one’s knowledge base is omnipotent. Because we have limited knowledge, there is uncertainty when information is beyond the human cognitive field, and the stronger the uncertainty, the more rumours can be fostered and spread. Just like the masses of our parents’ generation are more likely to believe the rumours and fake news spread in the WeChat circle of friends. In terms of position, everyone has their own bias, and it is not easy to handle information unbiasedly. Psychologically, all people are emotional, making it impossible to view a message objectively. In the Internet era, everyone can be a publisher of information, and the Internet provides a platform for everyone to publish information. The Internet offers a platform for all people to post news, using cell phones and computers as communication channels to reach their “audience.” We have entered an era of self-publishing, where citizens have a vehicle and a platform to publish news events they have seen and experienced with their own eyes. “Cyberspace allows people to talk and share opinions freely. However, social media is sometimes misused to spread mean messages and hate speech targeting others based on their race, gender, or beliefs, among other things.” (Zhang & Luo, 2018, as cited in Sergio Andrés et al ., 2021). The media richness of the Internet provides a compatible platform for various information types. The decentralization of content production has allowed everyone to use images, audio and video, and other forms of content besides textual information. For example, emoji packs, which combine text, pictures and even animation, have become a form of hate speech expression. The low threshold for online speech and anonymity makes it difficult to hold individuals accountable. “Across the world, women, being increasingly active in social media, have become the focus of online hate speech”(Chess and Shaw, 2015; Council of Europe, 2016, as cited in Claudia & Sven, 2018). The best way to manage the problem of hate speech on the Internet is to collide it with law and reason. Clearly define the legal responsibilities and the responsibilities of users and internet service providers, and adopt more ways of speech hedging mechanisms to respond to speech with speech, confront hate with rationality, and stimulate different speech hedging mechanisms.
A month ago, I watched a movie called “Post Truth” (保你平安), a Chinese movie.
The director was Da Peng. Before talking about the film, I want to mention a piece of news earlier in my blog, which is about a female college student who shared her acceptance letter to visit her grandfather in the hospital but ended up dying of depression because of her pink hair and the salacious rumours that slandered her and her grandfather’s incestuous relationship. The movie “Post Truth” was only released in China, so I watched a second-hand version of the film that someone else in the country recorded in the cinema. The movie “Post Truth” tells the story of Wei Ping An (Da Peng), who sells cemeteries live for a living and learns that his deceased customer Han Lu (Song Qian), is disliked by the relatives of his cemetery neighbours because of the obscene rumour. To keep his promise to Han Lu, Wei Pingan vows to find the source of the rumour and convince the cemetery neighbour not to move the grave, during which a series of hilarious and moving stories occur. The online rumour victim in the film, Han Lu, received positive media coverage for donating 1.38 million RMB to the orphanage where she was raised. The rumour appeared in the online comment section of the media. The obscene rumour was created and circulated because it began a sense of dissonance and discomfort in the viewers. The rumour monger exploited a seed of doubt in people’s minds – a young woman’s commitment to charity seemed to “overstep” her gender identity. Where did she get all that money? There is no yellow joke related to the female body in the film, showing sincere respect for women. It is worth noting that most of the tricks in the movie are related to sex, but these jokes are placed on the male characters. Sex can be a laughing point for men, but simultaneously is a nightmare for women; this phenomenon is behind the double standard of sex.
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- Richardson-Self, L. (2021). Hate speech against women online : concepts and countermeasures. Rowman & Littlefield.
- Saunders, K. W. (2011). Degradation : What the History of Obscenity Tells Us about Hate Speech. New York University Press,. https://doi.org/10.18574/9780814708750
- Felmlee, D., Inara Rodis, P., & Zhang, A. (2020). Sexist Slurs: Reinforcing Feminine Stereotypes Online. Sex Roles, 83(1-2), 16–28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-019-01095-z
- Sinpeng, A. (2021). Facebook: Regulating Hate Speech in the Asia Pacific. https://r2pasiapacific.org/files/7099/2021_Facebook_hate_speech_Asia_report.pdfLinks