Content is the king revisited – WS 01 2016
9 June 2016 | 14:30-16:00
Programme overview 2016
Content is the king revisited: Opportunities and challenges for media, content, and news in the changing media landscape of an Internet-enabled world
When Microsoft founder Bill Gates famously wrote “content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting” in 1996, few may have realized at the time how prophetic his statement was.
Since the media has historically set the content agenda, Gates’ prediction had widespread implications. In today's rapidly evolving landscape, however, content often shapes media – as demonstrated by established media outlets covering viral content. Additionally, there are many trends he did not foresee. Traditional media and its chief editors have lost their role as gatekeepers, and groups that did not previously have a chance to get their ideas published now communicate effectively with their followers. Politicians and bureaucrats reach voters and citizens directly, bypassing media, and the citizens can react to them directly as well. Yet, on the negative side, dangerous ideas and ideologies can be spread with a retweet, and radical people no longer need to send letters to the editor to air their suggestions, grievances, or curses. Angry and hateful postings have clogged comment channels in many European countries, and media outlets have been forced to shut them down or introduce heavy-handed moderation.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of Gates’ declaration that “content is king,” this workshop aims to review Gates’ predictions, evaluate whether they turned out the way he thought or not, and contextualize the current European media landscape in light of changes and some phenomena he did not envision, such as rise of search engines and aggregators as well as user-generated content.
This workshop will explore current trends in content production and distribution, with a particular focus on its effects on media and content policy in Europe, the changing role of media as gatekeepers, and the challenge of addressing hate speech, and how content influences children and youth in the age of social media. It also aims to address how content is shaping media use in Europe and the relationship between content and the media’s agenda-setting role.
Hate speech, Social & digital media, Child protection online, Access to content, User & content validity, Media & content policy, European media & content, Content delivery, News publishing, New & established media, Agenda-setting media & content
The session will be conducted in a manner that maximizes interaction using a roundtable structure with key participants who can provide insight and expertise for the topics being discussed.
To begin with, the moderator will summarize the article Bill Gates wrote in 1996 where he stressed that content is king, focus on some of Gates’ predictions and ask the audience, whether they think that the predictions have been fulfilled over the 20 years since, especially in Europe. [10 minutes]
At this point, the moderator will open the discussion about search engines and content aggregation in Europe to address how well traditional media has succeeded in adapting to the transition to digital media (including how to make money) and its new forms of content. [15 minutes]
The moderator will then open the floor for discussion on the role media provide as gatekeepers and the current phenomena of hate speech in Europe. [20 minutes]
The next and largest section of the workshop will be a discussion on how media outlets, producers, and policymakers can create more effective policies to address content-related issues, including hate speech, child rights online, and monetization. [40 minutes]
The last 10 minutes will be used to summarize key take-aways from the session and wrap-up [10 minutes]
- Bill Gates (1996) – Content is King
- UNESCO (2015) – Countering Online Hate Speech
- National Public Radio (NPR): The Diane Rehm Show (2016) – Concerns About How Facebook And Other Social Media Giants Highlight News Online
- Council of Europe (CoE) (2014a) – Starting Points for Combating Hate Speech Online
- Article 19 (2015) – Hate Speech Explained: A Toolkit (PDF)
- Council of Europe (2014b) – Bookmarks: A Manual for Combating Hate Speech Online Through Human Rights Education (PDF)
- European Union & European Court of Human Rights (1950) – European Convention on Human Rights
- European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2016) – ECRI Policy Recommendation on Hate Speech
- Council of Europe (2016) – CoE Committee of Ministers recommendation on Internet Freedom
- Council of Europe (No date) – Hate Speech
- Focal Point
- Michael J. Oghia – Independent, Turkey
- Key participants
- Menno Ettema (confirmed) – Coordinator for the No Hate Speech Movement, Council of Europe
- Tommi Karttaavi (confirmed) – Internet Society (ISOC) Chapter Development Manager, Europe
- Su Sonia Herring (confirmed) – Youth representative of Network of European Digital Youth (NERDY) from Turkey, and Editor & Social Media Specialist at Dukkan Publishing and Creative Agency
- Hanna Zoon (confirmed) – Researcher on Robot Journalism at Fontys Future Media Lab
- Moderator: Gareth Harding (confirmed) – Managing Director, Clear Europe and former Chief European Correspondent for United Press International
Gareth has 25 years of experience in Brussels as a political advisor, journalist, lecturer, filmmaker, and media trainer. He is the managing director of Clear Europe, a Brussels-based communications company specializing in media training. As an award-winning journalist and expert on European affairs, Gareth has written for Time magazine, Politico, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and the European Voice. In addition to affiliations with the IHECS School of Communications in Brussels, the European Journalism Centre, and the College of Europe in Bruges, he is currently the director of the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s Brussels program and a columnist for EUobserver.
- Remote moderator: Naser Bislimi (confirmed) – Association of Journalists of Macedonia
- Org team
- Yrjö Länsipuro (Subject matter expert) – ISOC Finland
- Michael Oghia (Focal point) – Unaffiliated, Turkey
- Irina Drexler – Council of Europe, Romania
- Jakob Kucharczyk – CCIA, Belgium
- Arman Atoyan (Focal point) – X-TECH, Armenia
- Michael Oghia, Wiki editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Reporter: Yrjö Länsipuro (ISOC Finland)
Yrjö is the President of the Internet Society's (ISOC) Finland chapter, and has extensive experience in print and television journalism, government communications and Internet governance. He was Managing Editor of TV news at YLE, the Finnish public service broadcaster, before becoming Bureau Chief in Moscow and then in Hong Kong. Yrjö has also worked for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) as its Bureau Chief in New York and for the German Friedrich-Ebert Foundation directing its news training courses at the Asia-Pacific Broadcast Development Institute in Kuala Lumpur. He then served the Finnish government as Press Counselor at the Finnish Embassy in Washington, D.C. and as Director-General of the Department of Press and Culture of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which he also represented on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). After leaving government service, he became actively engaged in volunteer work as part of ICANN's at-large community, including as the European Regional At-Large Organization (EURALO) representative in the Nominating Committee (NomCom), as well as participated in the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) from their inception.
Discussion summaries and meeting minutes
The organizing team, hereby referred to as org team, was first introduced by the EuroDIG secretariat on 21 March 2016 (email conversation available here). The org team held its first Skype discussion call on 31 March 2016. After some technical issues that did not allow Jakob to join us, Arman, Yrjö, and Michael discussed the larger details of the session, such as the purpose, key content, and intended outcomes as well as direction to create the session title and keywords.
After a constructive conversation, Michael drafted an email (available here) summarizing the key points and steps to take the discussion forward – bearing in mind Jakob's need to be informed about the discussion so he can continue to be engaged. The email led to a robust discussion where the org team reached consensus on the way forward (such as the overall structure, direction, and content of the workshop), as well as finalized the title and keywords ahead of the 4 April 2016 deadline – and subsequently submitted them to the EuroDIG secretariat (email conversation available here.
Throughout April and May, Yrjö and Michael drafted the session description, session format, and began proposing and reaching out to key participants (including finding a moderator). Our conversation about session content and speakers is available here, the email with the final session description and format is available here, and the email inviting Aidan White to be the moderator is available here. We also gained a new member for the organizing team in May, Irina Drexler from Romania.
Additionally, Tommi Karttaavi, one of our confirmed speakers, said the Internet Society (ISOC) is organizing a workshop in the afternoon of day zero (8 June) for the ISOC EuroDIG fellows. He added that he discussed with Yrjö the possibility of using part of that workshop to discuss the issues of WS 1 to prepare for the WS 1 session.
As of 26 May, all official preparations for the workshop were completed. The email to all involved with information relevant to the session was sent on the same day and is available here.
We were informed on 3 June that Aidan White will not be able to make the session due to personal reasons, but suggested Gareth Harding instead who confirmed his participation.
The key messages of the session are available here.
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This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
>> MIKE OGHIA: It’s officially five past the hour. Is everyone okay if we get going? All right. Then I’ll just quickly introduce myself. My name is Mike Oghia. Thank you for coming to the workshop. It was an interesting thing to organize. It all came together and I’m very, very thankful, first of all, to my organising team, and especially to Yrjo, who has been the subject matter expert and crucial in getting the subject matter. Without further ado, I’ll say one thing about our hashtag, #contentisking.
For the remote participants, let’s try and speak into a microphone that will be coming around. With that said, I would like to introduce our moderator, Gareth.
>> MODERATOR: Welcome to the session on Content is King Revisited, where we’ll see how Bill Gates’ predictions about the Internet are holding up 20 years after he made them. We’re going to look at what opportunities and challenges the Internet holds to the media, and what consequences of everyone being able to broadcast their opinions, no matter how hateful are, and the right to free speech.
My name is Gareth Harding. I’m managing director of a small communication company here called Clear Europe, a former journalist, and a lecturer at the Missouri school of journalism, where we run a programme in Brussels.
I have four speakers. Although this is a roundtable discussion, we won’t speak at you. There are no speaking time allotments, as far as I know. It will be absolutely interactive. I have Tommi on my right, who has worked for the Internet Society since 2014. He’s worked in the ICT industry since 1994; past employers include Helsinki Technology, a major telecom company, Minister of Interior and Minister of Finance.
On my left is Sonya Herring, youth ambassador for the Turkish Youth, participates in the youth IGF countries in Austria, Germany, and give a voice to Internet Governance debate. She is also an editor and special media specialist.
Hanna Zoon is a teacher and researcher at FontysICT. Her most recent project is robot journalism, if I’m not mistaken, researching the effects of new technology on storytelling. We have storytelling robots. I’m intrigued to know more about that, by building prototypes for new technologies together with students.
Then I have Menno is the coordinator of the No Hate Speech Movement at the Council of Europe, not to be confused with the European Council or the EU. Many newspapers get muddled up with the difference. He is working in educational projects there.
We will be bringing in lots of other speakers as well, including, hopefully, everyone around this table. Just before we start, a couple of housekeeping issues, if you could switch off your mobiles or put them on silent at the very least.
As Michael said, please feel free to tweet using the hashtag #EuroDIG16.
This is not a lecture or even a panel discussion, but an open one. And I have absolutely nothing prepared in terms of a speech. I don’t think my fellow participants up here do either. So we’re going to get straight down into it and get a conversation going.
Let’s deal first off with the headline topic about content is king. 20 years ago Bill Gates wrote that content is king or an article called content is king and predicted that real money on the Internet would be made in producing it. I don’t know about you, but my feeling is that today that platform is king, whether Twitter, YouTube or Snapchat. The people making the real money are the ones making the devices, like Apple, or the mass eyeball grabbers, and content like Google and Facebook. Meanwhile, the content producers, probably many of us, the tweeters, the bloggers, journalists, either make no money or are seeing their profession sliced open.
What do you think? Is content still king? Anyone want to have a bash at that up here or anywhere else in the room for that matter? Please go ahead. Is content still king.
>> I could try to say something to kick the ball off. Hello, everyone. 20 years ago it’s a long time and it’s a short time. I’m old enough to remember what life was like in 1996 and Bill Gates made many good guesses. I wouldn’t call them probably visionary or he didn’t need to have a crystal ball or anything like that. Already in ’96 some trends were quite obvious. He was just good at putting them to the paper.
I think that what he didn’t guess that well was probably that amount the vast amount of user generated content that we are going to have and we are having now and how that changes the game. I mean, in the meaning that people are not paying for the content; they are generating it. They are bringing other people’s eyeballs to the content, which turns into advertising money.
Gates was referring to different business models in his article. One of them was advertising. He was quite careful when he said something like that advertising is possibly going to be one way of monetizing the content but at the moment it seems to be “the” way of having any kind of business model with the content delivery in the Internet. On the other hand, that brings on all kinds of problems, because anyone can browse through the content. Last time in Twitter there were something like 6 to 7,000 tweets a minute. So this is a huge amount of so called content. Of course, Twitter are having a hard time in turning that to something that you can take to the bank, because they are not careful with the advertising. That’s another story. I’m rambling a little bit, so I’ll give the microphone to somebody else.
>> I think the platforms are more increasingly important, but I still think content is king. It just may be the definition and format of content changed, like there is professional content. I’d call it, like, journalism or for entertainment purposes or even what brand produces for Snapchat. And then there is the user generated content, but either way, no matter the platform, I still think content is important. Without it, all these new devices and technology that we have at the same time it is king, at the same time it sort of got worthless because we have so much of it, like data. We have so much data. We have so much information. We have so much content that it’s getting harder and harder every day to sift through. So I think what makes valuable content or a valuable platform is where you can find curated or specific content.
>> MODERATOR: Could someone get the microphone for the external listeners?
>> I’m used to working in the creative industry as well. I can say that in the last 10 or 15 years the situation has drastically changed, not only for independent music companies or newspaper publishers, but also for journalists, for artists, etc., etc. And I think both is true of the thing that was said at first. There is like a structural programme with a lot of the power being amassed by platforms coming from the content side, but at the same token we have so much information, data, content if you want. So I think both of these things are true. However, the problem is obviously it’s good to have more choices. It’s good to have the consumers being able to produce their own content. What happens to quality? In journalism, I think it’s highly important to see what happens to our society if journalism dries up as a quality for instance. With music as well.
I have a little bit of antidote; a friend of mine had music festivals for 15 years. He has an incredible amount of experience in terms of sales and he sold CTs and he sold T shirts. And he said ten years ago I made 75% of my turnover with CDs and 25 with T shirts. Now I make 75% of my turnover with T shirts and 25% with CDs. And I think that that illustrates the great shift. I’m not sure if the T shirt has the same cultural value as a CD. That’s my point.
>> MODERATOR: T shirts are king.
T shirts never go out of style. A couple of speakers. Michael, you wanted to say something?
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: Just quickly, before anyone speaks, please make sure that you introduce yourself and who you are affiliated with or whatever information you’d like. Thank you.
>> My name is Anna. I’m a journalist converted to the PR world. Other than this, I would really like to build up on what you mentioned about specifically what this switch in content and what is innovation meant to journalists. For me, I remember last year in EuroDIG precisely that we had the similar discussion about media and content, how has that been switched over time. And we were discussing about this have user generated content, the so called citizen journalist. This is a concept I feel particularly uncomfortable with and it really annoys me. The way I see it, is that users and the content that they produce, the content that they upload, I see more sources of information as witnesses of what has happened than being actual journalists or being actual communicators.
There must be someone with the skills and the ethical knowledge to be able to interpret this information and to make sure that everything we know like ethical journalism, understand the different types of sources, contrast, and so on. To me, this is probably one of the biggest flaws that I see at the moment when it comes to quality content. It’s very difficult to distinguish what more like a pure source of information or something that has to be put into context, which is what we usually miss. So I would like to hear more thoughts on the topic, because this is something that really interests me and really concerns me. Sometimes not in a very positive way.
>> MODERATOR: As a journalist and another journalist turned over towards PR, I tend to agree with you, obviously. You is there anyone else in the room who would say, well, actually we’re all journalists now? We all have a right to classify ourselves at that? Anyone else want to take up that sort of argument?
>> ANNA: By being a journalist, I do not mean having a degree in journalism.
>> MODERATOR: No, you don’t need that.
>> My name is it Rachel and I work at UNESCO. I’m here at the generosity of ISOC, and I’m speaking only for myself. On the last point, I think the important distinction to make is what is being written and produced, if it’s journalism, if it’s of news value for the public interest, anyone can do it. It should be considered journalism. It doesn’t matter if you have a degree or a license in some countries. But to get back to the point of content is king, I think an important piece of Gates’ article is the money to be made is in advertising. I think your point is in advertising. You’re correct; it’s the big platforms that are making the money there, and not traditional media companies as much. I wonder instead of content is king now, maybe personal data is king, because that’s what is being sold in advertising for targeted advising, more than the content itself being what’s the most valuable.
>> MODERATOR: Have we got anyone here from Google, by the way? I think we were supposed to. No? Anyone from a massive platform like Google? Let’s say Facebook? Twitter? Okay.
>> Thank you very much. My name is Theo Wells. I was in private industry for 35 years. I was studying in Brussels and I did work as a freelance journalism and this remark strikes a bell. Having seen the evolution of the Internet and evolution of PCs in 1983, you sort of look at it, and I think money is king. Whatever sells for the moment is what people use, whether it’s data or anything else. But if you want to look at content, perhaps what is most important is that we should look at what is the objective and what is our target audience within the Internet environment that we should look at to see whether or not content is king in the specific environment. What concerns me is the amount of tweets. People are confusing information, source verification, with a massive amount of data that’s coming at them in which they can retweet because they happen to agree with something that is, perhaps, taken out of content. Even if it’s not, it’s just there. They retweet it. It creates a massive storm of data that races across the Internet, whereas there used to be a time when you wrote a book or you did something, and you had to look at your sources. You had to go and dig. You had to get the information, get it right, and then you could get it published, unless somebody censored it, which is still true on the Internet.
At the start of the revolution, you can say content was king in terms of civil participation. We could look at what are the target audience. Is content king or should it be king if we want to increase the public service value of the Internet? Which it was intended to be and the civil service value. In other words, can we all citizens benefit from it? If so, how can we make sure that those 12 percent of people are illiterate in Brussels, 15% in Strasberg, and others who come from different social and cultural backgrounds can actually take advantage of it because teacher friends of mine have said that people with lesser skills and lesser skill sets have massive problems exploiting the Internet.
If you get an ever increasing group of people that cannot benefit and does not know how to exploit the data, the new digital divide, then you will eventually have a problem with content.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks so much. Hanna, did you want to introduce yourself.
>> HANNA ZOON: That was perfect. Thank you. I was thinking, I really dislike the word “content.” It takes away from what it is. I mean, what content is, it’s stories that people wanted to share and things that you might want to tell someone else. Maybe you want to tell more than one person. In that sense, content has always been king and it’s still king. There was only a brief time where people could charge for content. That time may be over, but that does not mean that we don’t that we want to stop telling each other stories. The scarcity of it made it valuable at one point. The fact that you needed to write a book and print it and then someone had to buy that paper, that was what made it valuable. Well, it’s now free for all and we can all read Twitter and Facebook. And I taught computer lessons to the elderly, actually. One thing they cannot wait to go on Facebook. It’s easier and easier to do so.
I’m not sure if content need to be curated by journalists, because there should always be the freedom to tell someone else what you want to tell. And in that sense, it may be more like a flock of bird in a way, where sorry for the analogy that there is no one leader bird that decides where the flock is going. The flock goes and each follows their own rules within it.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks very much. Did you want to come in at all, Menno, at this stage?
>> MENNO ETTEMA: Yeah, I need to there is one here, actually. Yes, it’s also connected.
This is a very interesting debate and interesting way of looking at content as pointed out by Hanna. For me, it is part of the questions here, are we talking about content? For me content and context are also very important. When we look at user generated content, which is Facebook and Twitter, often this is actually within social groups that partly know each other. And I think there is also here questions about how is the social interaction between groups? And I really appreciate there are certain groups that are missing out due to technical possibilities and knowledge, but also because they are less well represented in the stories that are being presented or in a negative way being presented. There are also challenges here to see the effect of content. If we allowed people that have the dominance of narrating content, that also has consequences of certain groups not benefiting from the Internet. I think the Internet has provided certain marginalized groups. In that sense the developments have been very positive for inclusion, but there are concerns also to keep in mind that we don’t push them out through hate speech, which we’ll discuss later.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks so much.
Now, Bill Gates in the same article lorded the ability with everyone with a computer to publish content, liking the Internet to a photocopying, “Allowing material to be duplicated at a low cost.” Is this a good thing, or has it spawned a society of over information where few produce anything original, as was just said, and everyone copies, pastes, shares, and retweets effectively often stealing from everyone else? So that’s my next question to you.
>> My name is Martin Fisher from the network of European digital youth. I was contest the statement that content is freely available just like that. In fact, I’m a big fan of content and big consumer, but I hate producing it. I certainly would not consider myself a journalist, but a consumer. A year ago I started just an experiment in consuming content only legally, which I was not used to. I can say ever since then I have seen a few new German shows. I read half the Internet and it’s full of spoilers, I’m excluded from that. If I want to watch current stuff happening on the TV that is part of the Internet culture, that is part of the content that I would enjoy, then I have no legal access to that. So if there is if content is king and as a consumer I very much might think so, I would not for me sort of the king has been dethroned by these negating pathways.
>> MODERATOR: Anyone else on that point?
>> Hello. Is it on? Okay. I’m Nicola from Serbia. I work on art based communication. This topic is really important for me, and I could say that knowledge is content is the king because we made content with our knowledge. For me, the key question how to produce original content. At the moment algorithms of Google or YouTube, if I start to listen to pop music, all of my online world will be filled with pop music content. And if we learn users how to adapt filters for their consuming content and how to change some time, we can reeducate ourselves.
If I can change a filter to receive some content from different country or stop advertisement, which is paid, I can be in content with some other contact and reeducate me and this will be stop copying and pasting the most popular content.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you.
>> I’m echoing what you just said. I said within the campaign we’re running, for example, we have had quite some examples of occupying space. It seems that events happen in certain country or community or whatever, and then there is a rushing out of information and people retreating. Somehow content meaning is created by those that have the most possibility to share and retweet and push out. So a certain narrative has developed that pushes out certain other things that have happened. Here the challenge is to be discussed with content generation. If we repost, again, those who have examples by boosters in Facebook to promote pages and things like that, or have a bigger network to push out information, start to dominate the narrative and start to nominate invitation of an event. I think that is something that I would also like to challenge. How do we look into those kinds of things? It’s pushing out information and pushing out invitations. There are challenges there.
>> MODERATOR: Menno, tell us about your project. Maybe people are unaware of it.
>> MENNO ETTEMA: I work for a youth I work with a youth campaign Council of Europe, which is a network of over 40 countries where youth organisations and networks are involved on local level through human rights education, but also reporting in awareness raising on hate speech and promoting human rights in online speech.
>> MODERATOR: Great. You wanted to come in?
>> About occupying space and how you can now do this with boosted posts or advertisement of any type. I think that’s true, but still with the Internet and user generated content, I think people somehow instinctively still value organic or sincere content. We are seeing a big position in how Rands position themselves from 20 years ago. Before it was all about being perfect and shiny. It was a package that was carefully created by every single from the color to the content of it. Now, of course, it’s still the same way, but now advertisements are being shaped to look like they’re not super planned and to look like they’re coming from a certain individual or a true story or a heartfelt emotion. So I do agree to a certain extent, but I also think this user generated content has maybe it has pushed advertisers and brands to act more humanely in the sense of marketing themselves.
>> MODERATOR: I’m going to add another one to the list, then. I’ve already got content. I got platform. I got T shirts. I’ve got knowledge is king. Content marketing, so I think this is roughly what you’re talking about. So content marketing is king. Let’s see how many more we can get. Go ahead.
>> I do acknowledge that the whole thinking of how do you market your information and content is changing to be much more from the user’s perspective. I think as you mentioned yourself, there are companies actually doing it, but there is also movements that are very developed in doing this, including extreme right wing movements that are really well adapted to present their message. You need to be very aware that this is happening to be able to start critically analyzing things on your Facebook page. I think there are many other communities that are not so well adapted and able to message or market their message. And I think here there is an unequal playing field when it comes to occupying the space with your narrative. And I think this challenges you. You must admit that I think the human rights narrative is performing very badly in the online space because we don’t know well how to market this approach to challenges.
There are questions here. How do you do this? It’s totally true what you’re saying.
>> MODERATOR: Please, sir.
>> Hi. My name is Damo. I’m from the union of students of Ireland. My background is in PR. We do a lot of Twitter campaigns. We have boosts or finance for it. Every campaign we have run has trended number one for sometimes 72 hours. The allegory of who is so, I say down with the monarchy. Power to the people. We see a very large decline in advertisement, especially during the crisis in the economy. It just plummeted. The same with journalism, plummeted. I think a lot of brands are seeing and trying to catch up like Snapchat. People want to see real begin win content. They want the behind the scenes. They want to get to know celebrities, people on a personal level. It is power to the people. They are the ones who made the content, dictating the narratives. So the conversation changed. I say power to the people.
>> MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
>> It seems there are more and more people who have the attention span of a sparrow or a mouse. They don’t want to read long articles. They don’t check facts. They don’t go to multiple sources. If they see something on Twitter or Facebook that sounds true to them, so what the hell, I’ll retweet.
>> I agree 100%, but I also think that’s probably been the case forever. When there were newspapers, there were people who bought into the stories about alien scenes or child with five heads scenes. They weren’t stopping to think asking a doctor is this biologically possible and they would just spread it. It’s the way of certain people think, like a group of A and B, and even their instruments change, what they have, the technology changes. Their core behavior doesn’t. Some people aren’t curious. They just prefer to believe whatever they hear on the news or whatever, and the fact that you give them a Smartphone that can connect to all the information online. It doesn’t change it. They feel look at two seconds and retweet even if it’s the most ridiculous thing. I agree and I just wanted to add human nature.
>> MODERATOR: She’s agreeing and disagreeing. She’s agreeing a hundred percent, but disagreeing a little bit.
>> I would like to second one thing that the gentleman from the private sector that before that we have to ask ourselves one basic question: What function do we want content to have. At the moment we agree that content is not king. We could agree that platform is king, or advertising is king, meaning basically everything becomes a wheel for advertising. And I think that is a horrible, horrible vision. If you think 20 years ahead that we should start debate. So the question I don’t necessarily think in terms of target groups what the gentleman said, but what is the function that we want content to have? And I want to say culture. There is a cultural value, for instance. I don’t think that culture has been doing too well. This is one of the essential questions we should ask ourselves. I wanted to second what you had and maybe bring it back to the table, because now we all seem to agree that content at the moment is not king.
I wanted to say one other thing, where you said it was all because of that short term with scarcity was provided. I don’t think it’s about scarcity. It’s about exclusivity economically. So that means the question of whether content or any kind of information should be exclusive on the Internet is a question that we’re fighting on many avenues, also in privacy rights, etc. If we say, okay, the scarcity thing is gone, then we can also say the privacy thing is gone.
I just want to say these are important topics. Sorry for highjacking this a little. Maybe the gentleman also wanted to say something directly to that, or did I make your point?
>> No one is highjacking by speaking.
>> Sorry to everybody for speaking again, but can we add sound bite is king.
>> MODERATOR: Sound bite is king?
>> That’s based on the remarks we heard. People hear something; they don’t verify the sources, which I also refer to. I was in the private sector, but for the most I’m active in democracy and governance at the Intergovernmental level. In terms of retweeting what was said just there, if they like it, I want to take to Brussels example a few weeks ago. When we had a few terrorists’ acts here in Brussels in areas that I know very well I used to live there. It used to be my metro stop and places I used to frequent. I knew some people involved, because friends of mine work at the airport in the very booth that was destroyed.
Other people that don’t know these people so well used images from I don’t know where and tweeted them as this is what these people do, including included in that were pictures were what to me were a little bit of background looked like Georgian soldiers being passed on as Syrian and so forth. We have a serious issue with sound bites and content. If we want to think about content, we need to go back to it was intended for academic information, to share quality information. That was what the Internet originally was about. It’s no longer the case. But it was commercialized.
When you look at what people retweet and content, we then need to look at what are the subversive psychological instruments that develop movements that the gentleman over there from the Council of Europe No Hate Speech was saying. How does that create dynamics that are anti-immigrant, and so on and so forth and anti LGBT, you name it, but we create mechanisms, but they are all based on sound bites.
>> MODERATOR: Doesn’t your example of the images at the airport underline, I suppose, the importance of gatekeepers and journalists as gatekeepers? For example, Storyful bought by News International, Irish based, verify identify videos, user generated videos, posted online to see if they are correct or not. That’s an open question. Gatekeepers, whether you call them journalists or not, still have their use of sifting through this massive information that threatens to flood us. Yes?
>> I’ve been thinking about content and containers. We’ve been tweeting Facebook and Twitter as containers and content whatever is in them. You were asking shouldn’t someone be governing that? And that’s I think what you’re asking censoring, moderating censoring. Do we need someone to parent this, parent our human behavior. Maybe that’s a more fruitful discussion.
>> MODERATOR: Which ones are you talking about?
>> Facebook and Twitter. But new ones will.
>> MODERATOR: New one. Snapchat is king. Anyone else?
>> ALEX BLOOM: My name is Alex Bloom. I’m from ISOC Netherlands. That’s an interesting point you’re making about really imposing a hierarchy on information, and I think that’s touching on the core of the issue, which is that the Internet is very good on disseminating content, but it has a lot of problems in imposing copyright and imposing any sort of structure on the information. So what we see is that information is spread without any connotation of whether it’s important or not, whether it’s quality or not. And that’s the effects we see. And at some sort of moderation would be great, but it’s very hard to imagine how that would work.
>> MODERATOR: Yeah. You could take the American presidential campaign or even the recent developments in European politics is sort of evidence that we have more information available than ever before, but these examples seem to suggest that it’s hardly leading to a better informed electorate, able to separate facts from lies. Why is that, do you think? If the Internet is such a great thing, gives us all this wonderful information, why do we seem to be falling for all these lies from politicians and the media to such an extent?
>> I would question what people consider content here, because a lot of the things talking about, like journalism and much researched articles and such, but much of the content is videos, YouTube, streaming platforms, generates up to one third of the traffic on the Internet. So these tiny articles, and of course it’s a different type of data which probably has a different ratio of information to bite size. Still, a lot of the stuff that people are actually consuming, people are watching, is pop culture is fluff content, cat content on the Internet. Are we talking about these quality and researched and elaborated content, or are we talking about just the general data flow that is probably what most users consume content wise.
>> MODERATOR: I think we’re talking about it all.
>> Then the discussion is focusing on less than 5% of it.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Sir, you want to come in?
>> PAUL NEMITZ: Yes. Paul Nemitz. I work at the European Commission director of fundamental rights and citizens’ rights. The question is, is the Internet good for democracy? And I think that would I would be interested to pursue that a little bit. Because on the one hand it’s clear we have more possibility to be heard with our individual views. On the other hand, we have seen a lot of democracy movements initially fired up by the Internet occupy Arab spring and so on, which didn’t lead to much. You mentioned the radicalization in our societies, not only in America, also in Europe. And we are struggling with this in the European Commission. In autumn we will do colloquium to address three angles of attack on the free speech. It takes away the economic basis for quality journalism, which is key in democracy.
More than 50% of the advertisement, if I’m informed well, of the United States which previously went into print now goes to one company, which is Google. And I think apart from state censorship, controlling the media, media concentration in private hands, this third issue, are platforms king and what does that mean for democracy? And I think that warrants a little bit more probing.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. You put the question out there. So any responses to that? Comments? Yes, please.
>> Thank you. Now that looks as Paul and I have teamed up, which isn’t the case, even though we both studied in Hamburg. My name is Sylvia Gontman. I’m the head of the media and entertainment division at the Council of Europe. I very much value all your input here. I’m going to share with you the matter is complex. Such as you want to have free content, then there is a price to pay. Paul has just said it. It’s at the expense, then, of what is known pass traditional media, making less royalty from advertisement.
Now, we will at the Council of Europe look into that and we are working on a standard setting instrument on a draft recommendation first to look into exactly this: Transparency of media ownership, and media pluralism.
A part of that draft recommendation, which the work has just started, will be also media literacy. I think media and Internet literacy, I’d like to call it that way, is of utmost importance. We must find a way to make that inclusive and make that free of charge to everybody.
Now, we are very transparent the work as it is in progress, will be on our website. You’ll find it under an expert group that is called MSI MET. If you want to know more, please visit our website.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Sir, you had a question or comment?
>> I want to at the time back to the question. And I want to stress that it is vital to distinguish between authors and copyright holders themselves. And I think what we should do what we should focus on is that people can still create content. They still have the opportunity to create content and that they make a living with. But we shouldn’t focus on, like, making sure that the structures that previously existed still will exist in the future. And this is the main part that many policies, for example, are all about. For example, the European Commission is looking into a copyright for press publishers. I think it’s a dangerous solution. It would only reinforce the status quo. It would still be it would only reinforce the marketplace of Google, which has been criticized, and I think we should be careful with what some people, especially the ones that are very influenced by the copyright industry, are thinking that the solution is.
>> MODERATOR: Very good point. Thank you so much, sir. Any others on that one? Okay.
>> To build on that, I think it’s a very valid point and it also connects to the previous speaker was saying about media literacy. I think he had major questions about education around media literacy and how to use Internet information accurately. So when we go to actually saying, okay, there will be new players who are going to generate knowledgeable content, because I hope that’s what we’re looking at so people actually have a critical reflection on situations in society and share that, how do we support them while meanwhile setting very clear boundaries on what we don’t find acceptable information to share, which is related to hate speech and discrimination and all these human rights violations.
For me, there are two questions here. One will be the whole concept of human rights education, education for democratic citizenship, which is being done a lot in schools, which needs to integrate much more of the Internet aspects of it, part of our campaign, but also what we’re campaigning for is much more youth involvement and youth participation into intergovernance.
When we’re talking about media literacy, I think it’s also about education, about how is governance of Internet organised and how can young people actually start developing their perspective point of view. Many people in the campaign are sick and tired of the hate speech and would rather not see it. There is also a fruitful basis to see, okay, how do we then regain that information that we actually do want to see and share and help me critically reflect on challenges I have in society. I think this is also an issue with the whole radicalization discussion. We need to look at some of the hate speech is coming from people looking for answers. I think the whole democratic model that we see at the moment does not answer some of the challenges that young people face when it comes to employment, housing, independence, and so on. They’re looking for answers.
The Internet provides all kinds of answers. We need to make sure that there’s also a human rights and proper democracy answer on that space that they can find. So I have lots of questions here on how to set up a campaign and actually secure youth participation of Internet Governance. There has got to be new ways of generating content and that needs to be profitable in some way so that people can continue that work. New players need to be giving that space.
>> MODERATOR: Snapchat and BuzzFeed. That’s the topic I wanted to talk about for the last half hour, which is hate speech and the code of content. Could you just introduce in three minutes or so this code of conduct?
>> So this code of conduct is actually is adopted on the request of the European Commission one can say by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube. We have asked these companies to accompany the enforcement by governance by police, public prosecutors, judges, of the framework decision on combating racism in Europe. This piece of law obliges the governments to act against a particular incitement to violence, racial hate based on color, religion, descent, ethnic origin.
More and more of this type of hate is increasing in Europe. We have increasing anti Semitism, increase in member states of more than 200% politically induced violence against refugees, people’s houses burning, hate speech against journalists, office holders, those that are called upon to make good use of democracy, they fear if they speak out they will be subject to violence. That has a chilling effect on democracy. It was a difficult discussion, because the American approach is a different one. Of the problems in America and the history of America is also different. But in the end the companies have signed up to this code and they recognized and it’s amazing, actually, today this is already newsworthy, that they respect European law when operating in Europe. Fantastic.
They will make efforts within 24 hours to take down when they have been notified of illegal hate speech. So let’s be very clear. This code does not change the law. It doesn’t create new law. It refers to an existing law. It asks the companies to cooperate in getting this incitement to violence and hatred off the net. We will follow this very closely, and I hope in following this many of you will join us and look what actually happens on the Internet after this code. Is anything getting better? Or will you still find if you put in the words “kill Jew,” immediately ten tweets, you know, if you search a little bit. That’s what this is about.
>> MODERATOR: I have never heard a commission official speak in under two minutes. Impressive. That’s Twitter style. Who is optimistic about that code of conduct? Anyone in the room want to give a big cheer for it or think it’s a good idea?
I’ll come to the less optimistic ones in a minute. I wanted to hear some backup.
>> I think it’s a great opportunity to start working on this. And if anything was a positive sign, as I said, we are present in many countries and several national campaign committees have now been approached by Facebook or Twitter or Google, let’s have a training course on this or let’s do that. I think somehow the heat is felt like we need to do something. We need to respond to this. In Germany there is an initiative and in France and in Belgium.
There are real questions here that are great opportunity. We should jump on that.
>> MODERATOR: Anybody want to say anything before we get some nice critical comments? I’m not encouraging it.
>> I wanted to go back to what the lady from the council said. I understood correctly, on top of this code of conduct there will be media and digital literacy trainings or education.
>> So it will lead to that eventually.
>> For regular people? I’m just curious, like what type of training, is it for children? For young people? Older people?
>> MODERATOR: Could we have the mic over there?
>> Thank you, but I will try to be very brief, because it’s rather technical. At the Council of Europe we do all sorts of training. In the particular field here, we also train, for instance, journalists on ethical journalism and so forth. It’s very small trainings. It’s very specific. As we always are short of funds, but we thank the European Union. We come regularly and beg and they give us money.
As to this media literacy part, you will see as part of bigger policy guidelines, you will find guidance on media literacy, but it will take us about two years from now to come out with something. So we are Intergovernmental. We have to get 47 member states on board to come to something that they really want to commit to. That’s why it takes so long.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks so much.
Coming back to the code of conduct, anyone else? Go ahead.
>> Sorry about that. In terms of the training, and I think that the young gentleman who has left the room raised a very interesting point also in relation to media literacy that was brought up, that is we’re looking at content. And I think some of us or all of us are always looking at new developments from what we know. And the point he raised is to me very interesting, is that this is a new instrument. We’re a new generation. We’re looking at this differently. So from a governance point of view, which is what EuroDIG is about, perhaps in the context also of media literacy we need to look at what is it? What is being done with an open mind so we don’t make a muddle of it because we’re looking at the legal framework, which we have known for centuries?
The code of conduct, very much welcome codes of conduct. They are voluntary. If we can get people to agree that is a way of living together nicely in these digital worlds and virtual worlds, that’s much nicer than regulation.
>> MODERATOR: What instruct me is you’re asking them voluntarily to keep European law. Surely that’s an obligation, isn’t it? Or am I missing something here?
>> No, I think you are absolutely right. But, you know, it takes some discussion to get companies to say we will not only apply our terms of reference, we will terms of community or terms of
Google, for example, a pity they’re not here now, but we can talk about jurisprudence and the right to be forgotten case. They actually pleaded before the Court in Spain and also before the European court of justice, if you asked the search computer in Google; it comes from a computer in California. It’s only California law that applies, and a California judge that in terms of your personal rights and your fundamental rights. That was the world view of the unity of the Internet. The Internet is one, according to American law only worldwide. And that is a vision which we hear in Europe: Do not share. We believe we have democracy here. Our parliaments make law in a democratic way. These laws have to be respected by anybody who does business in Europe, including these big Internet giants.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Yes?
>> RACHEL POLLACK: On behalf of the Americans, I apologize. I haven’t lived there in a few years. I just wanted to ask a few clarifying questions about the code of conduct and apologies if they’re very obvious. Just from looking over it, can anyone I’m sorry. Is that okay? I’m Rachel Pollack. I work with ISOC. I’m speaking on my own behalf. This is not UNESCO talking.
Is it up to the company to decide whether to remove the content if it’s illegal and perhaps some parallels with the right to be forgotten about how is a private company qualified to make potentially legal decisions if this ever goes to a judge, if there is any possibility for redress or to question the removal of content by the author? Those may be too specific, but if you can touch on any of that.
>> I can answer all these questions. First question is who can submit requests for takedowns? Anybody. Governments, NGOs, private people, users, nonusers, anybody can submit.
Second, how can private companies decide whether something is illegal under the law or not? Well, everybody who does business has to apply the law every day and not only in relation to hate speech, in relation to taxation and environment. Law always has to be interpreted. So that is the normal cause of business. That’s why you get lawyers’ advice. Particularly on hate speech, in Europe we have longstanding jurisprudence human rights in Strasburg, newspapers, radios, televisions for decade. It’s world class before America. If you look at the recent ranking, it’s very clear that the member states of the European Union rank before America. We don’t need lessons on free speech. We’ll take them, but let’s look at the fact. People like Glenn Reword, they are not living in America, so free speech here has a long tradition of limits being set by a court. This is also very important to understand, which is outside the countries. What happens in fundamental rights in Europe, including on free speech, is controlled by a court which is not inside country, but outer. That’s European Court of Human Rights. And this type of jurisprudence makes clear where the boundaries are and the companies have to apply this, like they apply any other law.
Of course, now we come to the third question, which is, of course, the crucial question, what about judicial protections? There are two angles to this. A, the company doesn’t take down. You ask for it to take down and they don’t take down. Then you have the possibility to seek judicial protection against the company, but what about the one who has spoken? And who says, well, actually, my tweet was not illegal, it should have stayed?
The same, I want to be forgotten, and the newspaper says no, this should stay. The answer is it’s true. There is no judge available for you. Why? Because these are private companies, and to invoke the fundamental right of being spoken about, because that’s what this is, against a company like Google and Facebook, it’s not possible. It’s the same with our newspapers. You have no right to be reported about, yes? But the control here is exercised by the public, by NGOs, the press. The companies are not transparent about what they take down and what not and for which reason. That’s why at the end of the code of conduct in the last paragraph you see that we will continue discussing with the companies.
We want to convince them not only to come up with statistics and these transparency reports, which are actually not so transparent, but to come out with material clear cases of what has been taken down and for what reason and what has not been taken down for what reason so we can have a public debate about it and there is scrutiny of this practice.
And I think that is the classic function not only to what’s tech, but also what’s newspapers, TV, and so on. There is no judge which would say tomorrow the TV has to report about this or that. No, it is the public that says the TV is one sided and other journalists, quality journalists, they make criticism. We need this mechanism also including academia, Civil Society, also in relation to what these companies do because they have become so important for forming of opinions in our societies. In Europe, at least, in many member states, in the ranking of where people get their political information from, these companies are now placed four, five, or six.
>> MODERATOR: Before handing it over to Tommi, you said that Civil Society was so important, but in doing so research for this, I read some articles which accused you of basic excluding from the discussions on the code of conduct. Is that true?
>> No, that is not true. We have had had NGOs on a number of occasions. They were not present in all the drafting sessions, because after all, we wanted the Internet companies to sign up NGOS were not asked to sign up it is true we are being supported by NGOs that are active in the area of discrimination, Muslim NGOs, Jewish NGOs, and so forth. Those NGOs who present those who suffer, they are with us. This is interesting, because the challenge in the end is not in the first place an Internet challenge. Let’s be clear about it. Hate speech leads to action in society, which is not taking place on the Internet, but in the real world.
So I would say to make it a rough line, those NGOs that are concerned about what’s happening in the real world in terms of violence against asylum seekers, violence with people on certain ethnic backgrounds, they are with us, Internet activists some of them, are for the time being against the code. We would like to convince them that the code actually having the code is good for democracy. It’s not chilling free speech. Not having the code is chilling free speech. If we let the hating, people will fear when they speak out.
>> MODERATOR: Are there any of those NGOs activists in the room or those who take a different point of view, felt excluded? You gents with the beards.
>> I’m from NGOs and public space. We have harassment problems or misbehaving of people in communities, like recent events of Applebaum. It’s an example of misbehaving in the real world. It’s difficult to handle if people misbehave. And I think kind of the focus should go into educating people so after they misbehaving, they’ll think about what happened and reduce this.
The idea of policing hate speech on the Internet might work for short term, but I miss the lack of thinking about the midterm future, how we will in future reduce hate speech. I think hate speech is all about not being headed, not being native with what you’re doing. I don’t see any of this addressed at least in the conversation. So I would like to get this point in the conversation. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: One more point and then I’ll just hand the floor over here.
>> MARTIN FISHER: Yes. Martin Fisher, Network of Digital Youth. I want to address directly the representative of the commission. In his earlier statement, he had that the companies constantly work and the legal framework and have to deal with the European law as well. I’m curious how many actually lawyers do you think are involved in this process of identifying hate speech and evaluating these hate speech statements on the social networks? Because in my experience, and I’ve worked with the No Hate Speech campaign for a while, and also supporting a lot of Internet Governance activities, I’m split. That’s why I’m a bit uncertain. In my experience, there is not a single lawyer involved. It’s the community of the community managers. The community managers don’t even get a lot of education on that.
There are partners in Germany and also partners of the No Hate Speech Campaign question the education that community managers get. The next time I’ll report a swastika, and the community manager tells me this is completely in line with the community management standards, which is probably true, but it’s still not in line with the European law. My only response is to give a sad smiley. Then I’m still questioning if this code of conduct in the end makes a lot of sense.
>> MODERATOR: Quick response on that and then I’ll hand over.
>> First of all, we are very interested to hear about cases when you make such notifications and you get such answers. Tell us about it. Second education, we heard what the Council of Europe is doing. There is a little bit of division of labor here in our narrative on hate speech. We also emphasized the need for education of school children behavior, good manners and so on, also education of lawyers in the companies. But we have a division of labor. And I think the No Hate Speech Campaign of the Council of Europe has gone already very far. How many lawyers are there in these companies? Well, you see, when we asked for more details about the processes in the companies, it’s very foggy. We have a complex back office, can’t explain more detail, transparent. That’s the nature of if you have companies before you, either they want to tell you or not. They didn’t tell us.
But to be fair, when we signed the code, Facebook sent from California the head of compliance who is a U.S. attorney ex Department of Justice, who said we will do the right thing. So we very much hope now they have signed up and they will do that.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
>> I’d like to play the devil’s advocate for a moment. On the one hand we have angry speech and on the other hate speech. The difference is that one is illegal and one is protected by the freedom of expression. With Twitter, like I said earlier, like half a billion tweets a day, if something gets flagged there, it will not get read by a lawyer. It will be read by some poor underpaid person in Bangalore, who has the decision to ban it or not. A lot of babies will be thrown out with the bath water. Some people might say that’s not a bad thing because we don’t want any angry speech; we want only nice speech on the Internet, because angry speech leads to radicalization.
Well, the counterargument to that or the flaw with that argument is that it has the proposition that radicalization is inherently bad, which is not the truth. A lot of changes in history with the civil rights, human rights, and so on, have come through radicalization. Keep that in mind.
>> MODERATOR: Good point.
>> Speaking with a colleague, when I grew up, I was a radical, and it was great, and I got lots of attention and girls on top of that. Nowadays you get the police. So, yeah, there is also terminology here to be looking at.
I just wanted to connect two points. One is with the European Commission code of conduct. You mentioned several NGOs and anti Semitic and Islam phobic concerns, and also references to gender and LGBT that I think has not literally mentioned in that text, but maybe it is implied. But I just wanted to raise this, because homophobic hate speech is the biggest form of hate speech that young people in our areas have reported. The second one is sexist hate speech. I think this should be clearly mentioned and taken up, even though especially homophobic hate speech is much more politically sensitive, because not all countries are very much in line with approaches to the LGBT community. But I think it should not be forgotten and it should be in the forefront.
That’s one point I wanted to raise out. Indeed, also training. I think we need to work with Facebook. I would love to share some examples from our campaign on how Facebook has or has especially not complied to reports.
I also want to connect to hate speech and education. One of the speakers mentioned, yeah, it’s not mature behavior. Maybe. Maybe it’s also an expression of frustration and anger and disappointment and things like that. In that sense, I think critical reflections and angry speech is fine. But there’s a red line that we set, and I think the European Commission mentioned that and the Council of Europe has also its red lines. And I think that needs to be clear. There is a red line and we need regulation and codes of conduct. We need ways of securing this red line. It’s not past.
But before that, there is a lot of work that can be done on human rights education and media literacy. I would also like to say community work, youth work, because a lot of the hate speech that we see on Facebook is between people that know each other. So what we actually just need to sit down is to say, listen, you posted this, I didn’t like it, and why, and actually address this. A lot of the hate speech is expressions of anger or situations in the society at large that need proper youth work and we should invest in that, and needs proper community work and proper education.
To me, the offline and the online go together. And I think the campaign we have this manual on human rights education for hate speech online. We also have a big manual on human rights education in schools and youth work. I would encourage people to use these materials. I think it’s vital that these connection between online and offline work. A youth worker says I do an exercise here and takes half an hour here, and I work the rest of the day we talk about LGBT rights and not any more about hate speech. We’re talking about situations in the community. I think we really need to address.
The whole economic crisis has led to pop level and I think we really need to address this. We real need to have another discussion about how to promote democracy and human rights in Europe in general.
>> MODERATOR: Do you want to come back to those points?
>> I must say I very much liked everything you said. The conclusion I would draw is to say rather that’s your conclusion well, because the companies, you know, they don’t spend a lot money. They don’t take responsibility and out sources to put people in Bangalore in two seconds, and you’re conclusion is we shouldn’t make maintain. We must maintain rules and hold companies accountable that they take their responsibility in society for fundamental rights serious, these platforms, these private commercial platforms which make huge profits except Twitter. A normal media company spends 3 to 5% on its Internet presence on properly moderating and policing third party content. Are Facebook and Google doing this? Well, we have no figures, but certainly the reality of big commercial companies not doing this or not doing this and outsourcing to Bangalore cannot lead us here in our democracy to say, and, therefore, we in the future will not have rules anymore which forbid incitement to violence. I think that’s the wrong conclusion. We should hold them accountable.
On gender and LGBT, it’s actually right what the Council of Europe says. Why? Because the code of conduct is exactly parallel to the law as it stand, and the unfortunate reality, if I may say so, is that in the seven years negotiations for the framework decision on hate speech and phobia, it was not possible to get consensus of our member states to conclude agenda and LGBT issues. That is a weakness of the law and the code is not changing the law, but it is parallel to this.
The reality is in many member states, not all because we didn’t have a majority of member states to include this in the law, in many member states when they implemented the framework decision, they have actually extended their national laws on hate speech to other grounds such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. That is a good thing. But I would say it’s perfectly fair to criticize this lack in European law.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
>> I agree completely about things you’re saying about youth participation and education. And I think in the midterm and longer term they’re much more useful than code of conducts which catch hate speech or flag them or just remove them online. But they’re just the symptoms of the problem. They’re not the source. They’re not the root. The root is even if you remove homophobic speech or anti Semitic speech or prevent someone from sending that message, it doesn’t change that in real life they still hate gay people or black people or whatever.
So I would also like to hear more what’s being done as an NGOs, I think it’s great, but on the governmental or even with the private companies. They do is certain obligations. Maybe one of them could be providing more education and training or programs about the reasons of why this hate speech has such a surge right now. Why is it increasing that much? Like I said, I think it’s important to focus more on the source than the symptom.
>> MODERATOR: One or two more comments and then we’ll have to close it up. I’ve got three, and that’s very, very quickly, if you can. Then we’ve got to wrap up the session, because we’re almost at time. Yes, sir? Go ahead. You’ve got the mic. Go ahead.
>> ALEX BLOOM: I’m Alex Bloom from ISOC Netherlands. I have a question about hate speech. The way I understand it, part of the hate speech is people that know each other are calling each other names. My question, is that really the role of the European Commission to intervene in people that know each other that call each other names?
>> I think there is a “no” muttered to my left. That was a quick one.
>> That’s what you’re advocating, isn’t it?
>> No. Just to clarify, a lot of the hate speech we see online is also hate speech that’s youth share and within the circles of youth communities. And being a youth campaign, we realized that youth work also needs to strengthen to actually address hate speech that’s been shared or liked etc. within the youth work context. When we work with youth in the center, we notice they like comments about killing people, and we can look at what could be the impact, what’s going on here. It’s not about the European Commission or Council of Europe where I work for intervening on this. It’s the Council of Europe, among others, human rights education and promoting human rights understanding, critical thinking and being part of the community. If we see people disengaging with this by spreading hate speech, there is room for work there on understanding human rights of everyone and being inclusive.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks so much.
>> That was the angle of approach.
>> MODERATOR: Quick comment or question?
>> I would like to just have a quick comment about disagreeing with what the lady said about just curing the symptom when we remove hate speech. I think there is an Austrian author and she did some research on the role of the algorithm on Facebook and Google, etc., that it has for hate speech. And the relevance and pouring it out and creating majorities, like in the perspective of the people that is issuing hate speech, and now saying everybody agrees with me here that whatever, like a certain group of people is bad or whatever, has a role. That means there is a responsibility, I think, in the companies that create the algorithms. It’s not only that it’s about to change the opinion of the person that issues the hate speech. It’s about the whole discussion of the whole environment.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks. Very, very quick.
>> I’m not talking about completely denying the responsibility of the corporations. Of course, they do have responsibility, but the echo chamber is still not the source of it. People actually seek out groups that they hate just to leave nasty comments, even without the echo chamber, without even having to see it, just to say bad things. They will find groups that they hate. So I think it’s not the only reason.
>> MODERATOR: Final one.
>> I still have some questions that may sound stupid, but I still don’t get the point. I would like to know first in case of rejection of the platform or the ISP provider or I don’t know, the organisation to move down the hate speech, is there any court is it the Court that decides to take down or for each case that there is being organised the group of professionals that decide if it is hate speech or not? And the second question is, if the provider or ISP or the platform is out of influence of the code, how is this being solutioned? What is the solution of this case?
>> MODERATOR: Very, very quickly.
>> Very quick. If there is a case where you think things have to be taken down and you have notified the company and they just don’t do it or give you reasons which don’t convince you, do two things: Go to the police or the public prosecutor and ask them to investigate the matter and act and in parallel, tell us about it.
The companies obliged once they have legal notice to take them down. All the council have seats in Europe. You are from Spain?
>> I don’t know how the legal system works in Armenia, but that is the principle how it works in the European Union.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We’ll have a quick sum up from Yrjo, Finland, former member of the government press. If you would say a few words of summation.
>> YRJO LANSIPURO: Can I have the first slide? This was a discussion had reached content, I would say. It’s really impossible to summarize in an equitable way. Anyway, there was quite search for who is the king now and what kind of king we have: Platforms, advertising, money, T shirts, sound bites, or content, but just defined another way.
Now, of course some speakers did not like the word “content” at all. Then the idea was expressed that it’s now down with the king and live the people. Can everybody now produce and distribute content? That’s what we assume. But actually there are groups that are unable to use these tools and market their ideas. And that leads to frustration.
There’s a lot of recycling of information without fact checking and some information gets amplified by this retweeting and sharing. It occupies space and pushes out other content.
Next slide, please. The question was asked do we actually need the gatekeepers back? Or should somehow some hierarchy some order be imposed on this information deluge. It seems like in the election campaigns and so on and so forth, the question was asked whether some sort of quality control would be needed.
Then to the hate speech, of course, how to police it: Media literacy training was mentioned a few times and also that it should be conducted with an open mind.
There was a question to actually, pointed out that hate speech and angry speech are different things. And some angry speech in the world has led to good results sometimes.
Now, the question of code of conduct for big platforms, and there are, it seemed to be, many problems because many of these big players are from a jurisdiction different than the European Union. So do we have unity of the Internet under the U.S. law?
Next slide, please.
The question was asked has the Internet been good for democracy? And it has in many ways, I must say, even though that was not pointed out in the discussion. On the other hand, the Internet has taken out the economic basis for quality journalism, and even if we like free content, there is still a price to say.
Finally, it was noted that the content will be produced anyway and producers will be paid somehow, but the structures within which this happened doesn’t necessarily remain, don’t necessarily remain the same all the time.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, and thanks, everyone.
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