Web ‘boost­ing hate speech’, says CST

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY DANA GLOGER

THE COM­MU­NITY Se­cu­rity Trust claims that so­ci­ety is en­ter­ing “danger­ous ter­ri­tory” as ex­trem­ists are in­creas­ingly us­ing news­pa­per web­sites to reach wider audiences.

Most news­pa­pers, as well as broad­cast­ers, have ar­eas on their web­sites which pro­vide open fo­rums, al­low­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic to cre­ate a blog or their own page.

The CST said this week that an in­creas­ingly large num­ber of ex­trem­ists were us­ing such me­dia out­lets, giv­ing them plat­forms with huge audiences through which to air their views.

One ex­am­ple is Richard Barn­book, the Bri­tish Na­tional Party’s Lon­don As­sem­bly mem­ber, who has cre­ated a blog on the Daily Tele­graph web­site, tele­graph.co.uk.

Mark Gard­ner, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the CST, said: “Free­dom of speech is not an ab­so­lute right where racists and ex­trem­ists are con­cerned.

“It is im­por­tant that re­spon­si­ble main­stream me­dia out­lets, such as the Daily Tele­graph, take great care for whom they are pro­vid­ing a plat­form.”

He stressed that Mr Barn­brook’s blog was not an iso­lated trend and said that many news­pa­pers and broad­cast­ers such as The Guardian and the BBC had had their web­sites “utilised for the pro­mo­tion of ex­trem­ism and race ha­tred”.

Al­though the CST is not call­ing for a ban on BNP rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the me­dia, it has said that when the party’s sup­port­ers are given space in news­pa­pers or on tele­vi­sion, me­dia out­lets must en­sure that read­ers and view­ers are fully aware of who they are and the na­ture of their views.

Mr Gard­ner warned that this was a com­plex and grow­ing is­sue which “so­ci­ety as a whole has not yet fully come to grips with” and said that poli­cies needed to be im­ple­mented to deal with it.

“This is an is­sue that the CST has re­peat­edly flagged up in re­cent years and is some­thing we have re­peat­edly raised in our con­ver­sa­tions with MPs and gov­ern­ment min­is­ters,” he said.

At The Guardian, the ed­i­tor of the Com­ment Is Free sec­tion, Matt Seaton, said: “We have a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy on an­ti­semitic post­ings or any other form of hate speech.

“We de­vote con­sid­er­able and grow­ing re­sources to mod­er­at­ing out site, with the help of our users.

“We do not tol­er­ate any hate speech, and our mod­er­a­tors will delete com­ments which are an­ti­semitic or Is­lam­o­pho­bic or oth­er­wise racist , as soon as they are re­ported to us or when we see them our­selves. That hap­pens in min­utes rather than hours or days.

“We are very well aware that one should never be com­pla­cent about an­tisemitism in the pub­lic do­main or other forms of racist dis­course and we work very hard to tackle the is­sue and to keep racist com­ment­ing off our site.”

A spokesman for the Tele­graph Group de­clined to com­ment on Mr Barn­brook’s blog posts.

BNP blog­ger: Richard Barn­brook

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