The Control of Hate Speech on Social Media: Lessons from Sri Lanka

Posted on July 13, 2021  /  0 Comments

As hate speech on social media becomes an ever-increasing problem, policymakers may look to more authoritarian measures for policing content. Several countries have already, at some stage, banned networks such as Facebook and Twitter (Liebelson, 2017). The government of Sri Lanka recently enacted a similar measure: a complete shutdown of Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Instagram on the basis that Facebook was used to spread messages of racial violence. However, analysis reveals these blocks to be ineffective (Wijeratne, 2018). Based on discussions with Facebook, this brief presents the more technically challenging approach of detecting and legally limiting hate speech as a more effective approach. While this is based on Sri Lankan context, we extract lessons for countries across the global south to propose a role that governments can fill to more effectively curb the spread of hate speech.

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