Hate speech in the age of the Internet

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The first of InternetNZ’s popular Speaker Series for 2018 Hate and the Internet will open the floor for a conversation on Internet trolls and hateful comments from race and religion, to sexual orientation, disability, and gender and our right to freedom of expression.

Massey University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley believes  we can no longer ignore the rise in hate speech online.

“It’s a serious issue for any New Zealander that uses the Internet. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right but so is practicing your religion or your sexuality without experiencing abuse. By facilitating this event InternetNZ is providing the platform to enable online hate speech to be discussed because it is worth debating.”

The Human Rights Commission, one of the Speaker Series partners, is looking forward to seeing what comes out of the discussion.

“We all have a right to freedom of expression, but with that freedom comes responsibilities. New Zealanders can agree to disagree without name-calling or denigrating each other. It’s about treating people with respect and mana. There is a complex balance between freedom of expression and the defence of human dignity,” says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

InternetNZ’s CE Jordan Carter was not surprised at the high level of interest for this event given the readily available opportunities online platforms give for communication.

Hate and the Internet was booked out even before we had the panelists locked down. This shows there’s a real need and hunger for this type of conversation.

“There are many positives from the opportunity the Internet gives us for global, instant communication at low costs. But there are challenges too, and talking about them is the best way to work out how we can tackle problematic behaviours,” Carter says.

The panelists come from academic, media and political backgrounds and all of them have personally experienced hate online.

On the panel are:

Megan Whelan, RNZ’s Community Engagement Editor

MP Golriz Ghahraman, the first refugee to be elected to New Zealand Parliament

Dave Moskovitz, member of the Abrahamic, Open Polytechnic, and InternetNZ Councils as well as being a startup investor and director.

Stacey Morrison, a television and radio presenter and part of Massey University’s Te Pūtahi-a-Toi Department.

Distinguished Dr Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

This Speaker Series event has been done in partnership with Netsafe, Human Rights Commission, Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Massey University, NZ National Commission for UNESCO and National Library of New Zealand.

This event is fully booked but you can watch the live stream of the event on our Facebook page or go to our website, Tues 22 May 12 noon until 1.30pm.