NZ Government Is Not Doing Enough To Protect Kiwis From Online Hate, Says Report

The study also claims tech giants are allowing online harassment and fake news to flourish.
Tech Giants Are Allowing Cyberbullying to Flourish in New Zealand
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A new report has revealed just how prolific online hate is and how the New Zealand Government is not doing enough to protect its people. The People’s Report on Online Hate, Harassment and Abuse by ActionStation uses new research, lived experiences and expert opinions to show how our society’s tech giants are allowing hate flourish and who the most vulnerable groups are.

According to the study, one-in-three Māori and one-in-five Asian and Pacific people experienced racial abuse and harassment online in 2018 alone. It also found the LGBT community, young people and those with disabilities experienced much higher rates of abuse and harassment than others.

To show just how common this online hate is, ActionStation analysed a total of 446 comments on Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori Stuff articles and found that, on average, readers would encounter nearly four times as many different racist ways of thinking for each kind comment. And Facebook users would encounter nearly five times as many.

Despite both platforms having hate-speech policies, the study insists they need to be more clearly defined and visible “so that inciting disharmony and hatred has legal implications.” The report also makes a case for how YouTube hosts and promotes conspiracy theories on Māori history, which have hundreds of thousands of views.

ActionStation is calling on the Government to address the serious gaps in the Harmful Digital Communications Act, and other legislation that has the potential to protect New Zealanders in the online world. Other key recommendations include an investigation into the most effective way to quickly remove harmful content, and ensuring the platform is responsible to this, not the user. They also want to limit the reach of harmful content by stopping platforms from benefiting from algorithms that promote divisive and polarising messages. Lastly, they insist that any policies that are developed to protect people need to have indigenous values and collectivist thinking at their core.

You can sign this petition that is calling for Justice Minister Andrew Little to implement these recommendations.