Intermediaries and Hate Speech: Fostering Digital Citizenship for Our Information Age

51 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014

Danielle Keats Citron

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Helen L. Norton

University of Colorado School of Law

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

No longer confined to isolated corners of the web, cyber hate now enjoys a major presence on popular social media sites. The Facebook group “Kill a Jew Day,” for instance, acquired thousands of friends within days of its formation, while YouTube has hosted videos with names like “How to Kill Beaners,” “Execute the Gays,” and “Murder Muslim Scum.” The mainstreaming of cyber hate has the troubling potential to shape public expectations of online discourse.

Internet intermediaries have the freedom and influence to seize this defining moment in cyber hate’s history. We believe that a thoughtful and nuanced intermediary-based approach to hate speech can foster respectful online discourse without suppressing valuable expression. To this end, we urge intermediaries to help address cyber hate by adopting accessible and transparent policies that educate users about their rights and responsibilities as digital citizens. Intermediaries’ options include challenging hateful speech by responding with counter-speech and empowering community members to enforce norms of digital citizenship.

Keywords: cyber hate, hate speech, digital citizenship

Suggested Citation

Citron, Danielle Keats and Norton, Helen L., Intermediaries and Hate Speech: Fostering Digital Citizenship for Our Information Age (2011). Boston University Law Review, Vol. 91, p. 1435, 2011; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1764004

Danielle Keats Citron (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Palo Alto, CA
United States

Helen L. Norton

University of Colorado School of Law ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

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