E-communities are trying to redefine hate speech after Charlottesville incident

August 15, 2017


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In the midst of the commotion caused by the rallies in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer and Neo Nazi groups, internet social activists turn vigilante to fight against hate speech.

“There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting words’ those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.” – Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 1942.

Dominating headlines around the US, The Daily Stormer, a Neo Nazi blog that addressed Heather Heyer, who was killed during anti-supremacist rallies in Charlottesville with an article titled “Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Sl**.”

A tweet by Amy Siskind, co-founder of The New Agenda shined a spotlight on the article for, the blog’s domain host. In conclusion, the website topped with phrases like “Summer of hate edition” along with a screenshot from a game where the main white character beats up two dark-skinned characters- has been given 24 hours to find another domain host, before GoDaddy takes it down.


In a desperate attempt at self-victimization, a post titled “End of hate: Anonymous now in control of Daily Stormer,” was allegedly orchestrated by the magazine’s own publisher, Andrew Anglin, which was called out by a Twitter account with ties to the vigilante group, claiming, “We are 99% confident that this is a completely false stunt by DS derps. Still not anyone taking credit, despite feelers.”

Other social vigilantes on the Twitterverse include @yesyoureracist, an account that has recently been working on identifying participants in the right-wing side of the Charlottesville demonstrations.

As a result of the account’s tweets, Top Dog, a restaurant in Berkeley, fired one of its employees for taking part in white supremacist campaigns.  

As social media have become the most common form of both casual and professional opinion sharing, tech giants were inherently given the responsibility of discarding hate and negative talk as a part of their platforms.

Facebook’s Deeptext, an AI module that focuses on the context of text shared on the platform, constantly learns word-association and connotations they imply.

Although the system is still work-in-progress, it definitely shows the company’s dedication to its Anti-hate speech policies.


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