Madam/ Mr president,
Thank you to the rapporteur for raising this not so easy matter – the need for social media regulation. Online communication has become an essential part of our everyday lives. Its influence on people’s opinions, actions and behavior is huge. That’s why we must follow, regulate and improve the pluralism of who is controlling the information, who is making the actual choices on what kind of information people see and who owns the information collected on us and what it is used for.
It is problematic that online platforms are private entities trying to make a profit. Yet, as experience has shown, their activities have a huge impact on human rights, especially on the right to privacy and freedom of speech.
Hate speech and freedom of speech are not always clear and unfortunately many want to blur them. Hate speech is often directed towards politicians and authorities. In Finland, the Prosecutor General has been determined in prosecuting cases of hate speech, defamation, persecution and ethnic agitation. As a result, she has been targeted by trolls in social media. The same trolls attacked her online when she reported the Finnish National Prosecution Authority’s intention to participate in the investigation of war crimes in Ukraine. These trolls claimed it would cost too much.
Many of those spreading hate online reject criticism by saying that ”soon we can’t say anything anymore”. However, we must see the connection between hate speech and human rights violations. Often in history, hate speech has begun the path to violence. Inciting hatred lays the ground for graver action. The consequences of dehumanization have been seen in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and now in Ukraine.
Social media has enabled the anonymous and faster than previous spread of such messages. Our regulation and oversight must follow suit so that we can quickly stop such criminal and harmful content and action. The responsibility lies both with the platforms and their users.