Human Rights Day: Freedom of Expression is not a pass to be an online troll
Today is Human Rights Day a day observed by all around the world to commemorate the 10th December 1948, the date when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The right to freedom of expression is granted to all under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all EU Citizens Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. We believe you can express an opinion on topics and issues around the world without it being filled with hate or it be a personal attack.
It is possible have a robust and heated debate without descending to online abuse and harassment. Robust debate is necessary in order to get to the core of the main points, challenge held beliefs and draw similarities and conclusion. It is important to go through this process in order for society to grow in tolerance and understanding, to evolve and recommit to core beliefs.
Freedom of expression is not a human right to spread any form of hate nor should it ever be.
Amnesty International commissioned an Ipsos Mori poll which showed 23% of women across eight countries experienced online abuse or harassment. Just over a fifth of women in Britain experienced online abuse and it is magnified for women of colour. There is an increasing number of attempts to silence women and individuals from diverse groups online through various forms abuse, ranging from but not limited to revenge porn, doxing, harassment and mob-style trolling. These are activists, politicians, journalists, models, bloggers, mums, senior leaders in companies and the future generation. This results in the withdrawal from expressing an opinion online out of fear of a violation of privacy and or safety and therefore a limitation of diversity online.
This is a new challenge to democracy, digital inclusion, progress towards gender equality, as well as the integrity of the information space that social media companies and governments must address and quickly. Maybe we should have the right to take social media companies to court for failing to address online abuse and harassment online?
There are some things that are just clearly hateful and do not belong in robust debate. Sending racist abuse, rape threats and sharing a video without someone’s consent are clear red lines. Once we tackle this, then we can turn our attention to the remarks that are not so clear cut.
As with all rights there comes responsibility. When it comes to the right to express yourself the responsibility must be to be respectful, tolerant, and not to spread hate. If you agree, sign up our Glitch!UK Pledge.