Study on the spread of hate speech on social media completed

Since the spread of hate speech remains an issue in Estonia, we monitored a number of social media sites throughout September. Based on the conclusions we drew, we prepared an analysis of the spread of hate on Estonian social media. We carried out the survey as part of the ‘Investigate. Participate. Change’ project, funded by the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Estonia. In the course of our monitoring, a total of 51 Estonian-language and 52 Russian-language posts with hateful content were analysed. In the case of both languages it was noted that people have learned how to get around the machine detection of hate speech on social media, for example by using metaphors and couched threats.

It was noted that hateful content is spread in particular on well-known Facebook and TikTok pages. Most of this content pertained to gender and sexual orientation (the latter especially) while the rest was aimed at certain groups based on their national, ethnic or racial background.

Compared to the Estonian content, there was a larger number of comments in Russian that used more directly threatening language against non-heterosexual people, while the use of language in the Estonian comments mainly aimed to belittle the target person or group or to express disgust, contempt or rejection.

The details of other manifestations of hate and of the extent to which social media platforms remove hateful content can be read about in the survey itself, in which we also provide recommendations for the state, the media, those working in the field of education and NGOs.

Read the study.

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