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Report: One In Three Consumers Still Find Hate Speech In Online Videos

Do you think that online video platforms are protecting the viewers from hate speech? Well, turns out it isn’t the case at all as according to a new report by Ofcom, one in three people still have spotted hate speech in videos across multiple platforms in the last three months.

Furthermore, the report stated that the racist content clearly dominated the videos spotted with hate speech. However, religious discrimination, transphobic and homophobic content were also commonly found in many of the videos.

Being the media regulator which takes full responsibility for policing rules to the platforms on harmful video content, Ofcom is expecting the relevant key players to “take active measures” in taking down the issue.

But this again can only happen if the rules regarding banning content with hate speech are clear and there are more transparent reporting systems in place.

Apart from that, the rules should also be applicable for all video-sharing sites and not only YouTube.

Ofcom has also warned sites that host pornography to put in place an effective age-verification system which would make sure that no one under the age of 18 is able to access such content. Not to forget that such an attempt has been made by the government when they tried to introduce mandatory age-verification checks for pornography in 2019, but things didn’t work out due to repeated delays and obstacles.

Nevertheless, any breaches of the rules now can lead to heavy fines or even the site being taken down in the UK.

The guidance on the other hand is still in the form of a proposed draft and changes are expected. Apart from that, the rules which potentially govern the video-sharing sites can again be superseded by the long-delayed Online Harms Bill which is yet to come into effect.

Overall, Ofcom found 32% of respondents complaining that they saw various kinds of hate speech on platforms. Among those:
  • 59% claimed that the content was directed towards a specific racial group
  • 28% spotted videos created against a religious group
  • 25% caught content being showcased against transgender people
  • 23% watched a specific sexual orientation
These numbers go above 100% because one can also expect that a person may have seen different kinds of abuse as well at one time.

Speaking on the findings, Bill Howe from Stop Hate UK said that what Ofcom has found is not surprising at all - especially considering the anecdotes the charity hears. While the organization does believe in preserving freedoms of speech and expression, they still cater to the ever-growing issue of the proliferation of hateful material online with great care.

But with that, the regulation and enforcement can only take place in the form of a wider education or citizens' program which would be based on addressing hate speech or other similar issues.

The majority of the users also had no knowledge about the safety systems that video sites now have in place for reporting content as six in 10 said they had no idea about them and only a quarter of people once used the option.

The whole research was carried out in between the time period of September and October during 2020 and more than 2,000 respondents were asked about the last three months.

Ofcom’s head of online content Kevin Bakhurst also said that if a video is popular that doesn’t mean it won’t have any risk of hate speech involved. But the way video services are working hard on protecting users, the team is also hopeful to combat the issue with strong collaboration and new strict rules in place from time to time.


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