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United in diversity, divided by hate speech

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New Delhi: The Centre’s justification before the Supreme Court for retaining the penal provision for hate speeches and backing the prosecution of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for instigating animosity between Hindus and Muslims will definitely be met with some raised eyebrows. At a time when ‘intolerance’ has become the key word among politicians and leaders, the Centre’s justification aims at enforcing an embargo on those who rake up controversies through their speeches.

Hate speeches are not rare in India but if the apex court delivers a ruling favouring a penal provision, leaders like Swami, Akbaruddin Owaisi, Varun Gandhi would definitely have a food for thought before instigating people and fuelling communal tensions.

India has witnessed many violent riots fuelled by venomous speeches. However, even as common people kill and hurt each other, the leaders, who are the main culprits, do not pay a price for the backlash. When surrounded by controversy, they evade arrest citing ‘right of expression’ and that they were ‘misquoted’.

But does the ‘right of expression’ permit venomous speeches, hurting religious sentiments of communities or promote enmity?

According to Home Affairs Ministry, Indian citizens cannot spread hatred towards any community or class in the name of freedom of speech and expression as it would result in public disorder and riots. It stated that penal provisions are meant to preserve unity of the country and to prevent acrimonious forces from disrupting the harmony.

Owaisi won ‘accolades’ for his ‘objectionable’ speeches. Owaisi claimed that “the 25 crore Muslims will take care of the 100 crore Hindus if only the police was removed for 15 minutes”.

He was slapped with numerous charges including “attempting to wage war” against the Government of India. Via his fiery speeches he not only infuriated the Hindu community but his “malicious acts” outraged the religious feelings and pushed the nation towards unrest. However, his fan-following testifies that Indians are being spoon fed with the potion of intolerance by the leaders.

On the other hand, we have the Thakerays from Maharashtra who constantly harp on India being a Hindu majority nation and Muslims should migrate to Pakistan.

They too have delivered provocative speeches against  Muslims migrants from Assam and Bihar. Activists and cadres of extremist outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena have a history of making provocative speeches and issuing anti-Muslim statements and threats.

Amid chants of Jai Shri Ram, the young face of BJP and the scion of Nehru-Gandhi, Varun Gandhi, in a speech at Pilibhit, threatened to cut hands and sever heads of Muslims. However, he did not have a justification behind his statement which many considered to be a publicity gimmick.

Human beings are not cruel or violent by nature but it is the vitriol that awakens the dark side of human nature and encourages them to take up arms against his countrymen. The ‘hate speeches’ blindfold the cadres and compel them to act mechanically. While the politicians try to get publicity through these speeches, it is the common people who get sacrificed at the altar of the ‘hate speeches’.

(Picture Courtesy: www.returnofkings.com)

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Internet Firms Initiate Steps to Counter Online Hate speech and Incitements to Violence

Internet companies have increasingly found themselves in the crosshairs over hate speech and other volatile social issues

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Daily Stormer
GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving joins the celebration during New York Stock Exchange opening bell ceremonies for his company's IPO, April 1, 2015. VOA
  • The internet domain registration of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer was revoked twice in less than 24 hours
  • After GoDaddy revoked Daily Stormer’s registration, the website turned to Alphabet’s Google Domains
  • Twitter, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other platforms have ramped up efforts to combat the social media efforts of Islamic militant groups, largely in response to pressure from European governments

The internet domain registration of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer was revoked twice in less than 24 hours in the wake of the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, part of a broad move by the tech industry in recent months to take a stronger hand in policing online hate speech and incitements to violence.

GoDaddy, which manages internet names and registrations, disclosed late Sunday via Twitter that it had given Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider, saying it had violated GoDaddy’s terms of service.

The white supremacist website helped organize the weekend rally in Charlottesville where a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man plowed a car into a crowd protesting the white nationalist rally.

After GoDaddy revoked Daily Stormer’s registration, the website turned to Alphabet’s Google Domains. The Daily Stormer domain was registered with Google shortly before 8 a.m. Monday PDT (1500 GMT) and the company announced plans to revoke it at 10:56 a.m., according to a person familiar with the revocation.

As of late Monday, the site was still running on a Google-registered domain. Google issued a statement but did not say when the site would be taken down.

ALSO READ: People who use Internet a lot may experience increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure when they go offline: Scientists

Caught in the middle

Internet companies have increasingly found themselves in the crosshairs over hate speech and other volatile social issues, with politicians and others calling on them to do more to police their networks while civil libertarians worry about the firms suppressing free speech.

Twitter, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other platforms have ramped up efforts to combat the social media efforts of Islamic militant groups, largely in response to pressure from European governments. Now they are facing similar pressures in the United States over white supremacist and neo-Nazi content.

Facebook confirmed Monday that it took down the event page that was used to promote and organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

Facebook allows people to organize peaceful protests or rallies, but the social network said it would remove such pages when a threat of real-world harm and affiliation with hate organizations becomes clear.

“Facebook does not allow hate speech or praise of terrorist acts or hate crimes, and we are actively removing any posts that glorify the horrendous act committed in Charlottesville,” the company said in a statement.

Several companies acted

Several other companies also took action. Canadian internet company Tucows stopped hiding the domain registration information of Andrew Anglin, the founder of Daily Stormer. Tucows, which was previously providing the website with services masking Anglin’s phone number and email address, said Daily Stormer had breached its terms of service.

“They are inciting violence,” said Michael Goldstein, vice president for sales and marketing at Tucows, a Toronto-based company. “It’s a dangerous site and people should know who it is coming from.”

Anglin did not respond to a request for comment.

Discord, a 70-person San Francisco company that allows video gamers to communicate across the internet, did not mince words in its decision to shut down the server of Altright.com, an alt-right news website, and the accounts of other white nationalists.

“We will continue to take action against white supremacy, Nazi ideology, and all forms of hate,” the company said in a tweet Monday. Altright.com did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Twilio Chief Executive Jeff Lawson tweeted Sunday that the company would update its use policy to prohibit hate speech. Twilio’s services allow companies and organizations, such as political groups or campaigns, to send text messages to their communities.

Arbiters of acceptable speech

Internet companies, which enjoy broad protections under U.S. law for the activities of people using their services, have mostly tried to avoid being arbiters of what is acceptable speech.

But the ground is now shifting, said one executive at a major Silicon Valley firm. Twitter, for one, has moved sharply against harassment and hate speech after enduring years of criticism for not doing enough.

Facebook is beefing up its content monitoring teams. Google is pushing hard on new technology to help it monitor and delete YouTube videos that celebrate violence.

All this comes as an influential bloc of senators, including Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, is pushing legislation that would make it easier to penalize operators of websites that facilitate online sex trafficking of women and children.

That measure, despite the noncontroversial nature of its espoused goal, was met with swift and coordinated opposition from tech firms and internet freedom groups, who fear that being legally liable for the postings of users would be a devastating blow to the internet industry. (VOA)