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MGRM reports 15 cases of online hate speech in six weeks

Online platform removed one of every three cases reported

An EU-wide monitoring exercise on online hate-speech led to the reporting of 15 cases in Malta in just six weeks, a report issued by the European Commission shows.

In one of every three cases, reported by the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) – acting as the Maltese counterpart in the study – the online platform agreed that the reported post was illegal and removed it from its site.

Last year, the participating online platforms – Facebook, You Tube and Twitter – had agreed to an EU initiative to adopt a new code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online.

The code included a series of commitments to combat the spread of hate speech.

Among other measures, they committed themselves to review the majority of valid notifications of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and to remove or disable access to such content, if necessary, on the basis of national laws transposing European directives.

The code also underlined the need to further discuss how to promote transparency and encourage counter and alternative narratives.

The results of the monitoring exercise, conducted between March 20 and May 5, showed that a total of 2,575 notifications were submitted to the participating IT companies.

Out of these, 1,830 cases were submitted through the reporting channels available to general users and 745 were through specific channels available only to trusted flaggers.

Facebook received the largest amount of notifications (1,273 cases), followed by You Tube (658 cases) and Twitter (644 cases).

In addition to flagging the content to the IT companies, the organisations taking part in the monitoring exercise submitted 212 of the cases to the police, public prosecutors or other national authorities.

Overall, 59.1 per cent of the notifications led to the removal of the offending content. A third of the 15 cases reported in Malta were removed.

Xenophobia (17.8 per cent), which includes anti-migrant hatred, and anti-Muslim sentiment (17.7 per cent) were reported as the most recurrent ground of hate speech, followed by ethnic origin (15.8 per cent).

The overall results confirmed the predominance of hatred against migrants and refugees, the compilers said.

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