CIJ launches 'Say No to Hate Speech' election monitoring project
Published:  Jul 28, 2023 9:40 PM
Updated: 1:40 PM

Ahead of official nominations for the six state elections, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and its partners launched an online monitoring project to identify and counter hate speech.

The “Say No To Hate Speech” project in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and Universiti Sains Malaysia, is also supported by Malaysiakini as the official media partner.

The monitoring of social media platforms including Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok will also include identifying Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviours (CIB) such as bots and cybertroopers.

CIJ said the public is encouraged to be responsible in upholding freedom of expression and speech during the election period and counter hate speech by reporting it on social media via the project’s Reporting Portal.

The severity of hate speech surrounding sensitive issues like 3R (race, religion, royalty) and gender, and those targeted at specific groups such as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) people, refugees, and migrants, will be classified in four levels:

Level 1 - Disagreement or non-offensive language or content

Level 2 - Offensive or discriminatory language or content

Level 3 - Dehumanising or hostile language or content

Level 4 - Language or content that includes incitement or a call for violence.

The project which started on July 24 will run until Aug 20 and will monitor politicians, political parties, media, government agencies, and key opinion leaders to identify trends on how their hate narrative impacts or increases the potential harm against individuals and communities at risk.

Findings from the monitoring will be recorded in CIJ’s online dashboard.

Hate speech will intensify

CIJ said after conducting monitoring during the 15th general election last year, they expect hate speech and disinformation will continue to intensify in the upcoming state elections, especially on social media.

“These tactics continue to be frequently used by politicians and other key actors to control narratives and influence public understanding of key issues as a means of influencing voter decisions.

“The weaponising of inflammatory tropes and rhetoric distracts and diverts attention from solution-focused thinking, and these narrowing political interests do not serve our democracy,” said CIJ in a statement.

Further, CIJ said it will also partner with Architects of Diversity, Beyond Borders, Justice for Sisters, KRYSS Network, North South Initiative, Sisters in Islam, Pusat Komas, and Persatuan Sahabat Wanita to initiate an “alerts system” built on their monitoring data.

The system will trigger rapid responses when a particular hate speech or content reaches a high severity level and requires an immediate response.

This will also include lodging reports to the social media platforms and providing resources to the media and public on combating hate speech.

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