Julia Reda (Verts/ALE
– Mr President, almost any female politician will have experienced hate speech on her social media accounts. It is a widespread phenomenon that did not start with the internet. It is important not to forget that the core of the problem is not social media, it is sexism and racism.
According to Council of Europe data only 15% of hate speech messages actually qualify as illegal. Then why do certain Member States think we can fix this problem? We are simply getting Facebook and Twitter to install a content filter. No technology is qualified to make the difficult decisions needed to define hate speech. By relying solely on technology we are not helping the victims and we are silencing free speech if we try to turn private companies into enforcers of laws that often do not even exist in the first place.
Instead, we need to address the terrible experiences that many women have when they actually try to report sexist hate speech to the police. We need to invest in training for law enforcement, in easier reporting of crimes and in supporting grassroots initiatives countering hate speech. If we try to solve one problem with blunt and ineffective technological tools we will end up creating more problems.