CIJ unveils month-long “Say No to Hate Speech” portal in conjunction with six state polls

THE Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Universiti Sains Malaysia has kickstarted a month-long hate speech monitoring project for the upcoming 2023 Malaysian state elections.

The monitoring will focus on the severity of hate speech surrounding sensitive issues like 3R (race, religion, royalty) sentiments and gender; and those targeted at specific groups such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people and refugees and migrants.

“Our aim with the “Say No to Hate Speech” monitoring which commenced on July 24 and will continue until Aug 20 is to monitor the following actors: politicians, political parties, media, government agencies and key opinion leaders,” CIJ executive director Wathshlah Naidu pointed out in a media statement.

“This aims to– to identify patterns and trends on how their hate narrative impacts or increases the potential harm against individuals and communities at risk. The monitoring will also include the identification of Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviours (CIB) such as bots and cybertroopers.”

Wathshlah Naidu

Currently, some 88 actors are being monitored on Facebook, X (formally Twitter) and TikTok.

The severity of hate speech will be classified within the following levels:

Level 1:  Disagreement or non-offensive language or content

Level 2: Offensive or discriminatory language or content

Level 3: Dehumanising or hostile language or content

Level 4: Language or content that includes incitement or a call for violence.

Based on their experience from monitoring the 15th General Election (GE15) last November, CIJ and its partners expect hate speech and dissemination of disinformation to continue to intensify especially on social media.

“These tactics continue to be frequently used by politicians and other key actors to control narratives and influence public understanding of key issues as a means of influencing voter decisions,” noted Wathshlah.

“The weaponising of inflammatory tropes and rhetoric distracts and diverts attention from solution-focused thinking, and these narrowing political interests do not serve our democracy.”

She added: Most importantly, we encourage the public to be attentive and responsible in upholding their freedom of expression and speech during this election period as well as to contribute to the countering of hate speeches by reporting them via our reporting portal.” – July 29, 2023

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