FAKE NEWS & MINORITIES
Online hate speech denigrates the ethnicity, skin colour, sex, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or worldview of a minority group in order to stir up hostility and discrimination toward that group. The internet contributes to the massive spread of hate speech because people tend to be less inhibited when confrontation is not face-to-face. As a result, on the internet, hate-filled content gets more attention and spreads more widely.
In a press release dated 27 February 2020, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues expressed how, in the last ten years, sectarianism and hate speech posted on digital platforms has contributed to the rise in violent extremist groups and an increase in crimes against religious and ethnic minorities, including migrants. He also asserted that the more hate speech spreads on social networks, the more mainstream it becomes, thus creating an environment that is more permissive of violence against minority groups.
CASE IN POINT: FAKE NEWS ABOUT MIGRANTS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
‘Migrants attacked a minor near the Sarajevo railway station.’ In 2019, this rumour was picked up by nearly every media outlet in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In fact, however, an investigation by the Sarajevo police showed that the rumour stemmed from manipulated information aimed at stoking hatred against minorities in the country.
This mendacious hate speech first emerged when one of the country’s most popular websites, Klix.ba, published an item about an alleged attack by migrants on a young man of 17 in Sarajevo as the caption of a photo showing a battered person in a dark alley. After investigating, however, the police established not only that the attack had not been carried out by ‘migrants’, but also that it did not even happen where the website initially said it had, that is, near the railway station.
Using fake news in this way to denigrate migrants is common in the Balkans, both in newspapers and on social media.