EU funding call for proposals to monitor, prevent and counter hate speech online

Article written by Andrea Camilleri – Executive, EU Funding
Published on The Malta Independent – 21.05.18

An EU call for proposals to monitor, prevent and counter hate speech online has been launched with the aim of funding projects combating hate speech on online social platforms.

Currently, EU law defines illegal hate speech ’as the public incitement to violence or hatred directed to groups or individuals on the basis of certain characteristics, including race, colour, religion, descent and national or ethnic origin’.

The European Commission has been looking into a number of ways to combat illegal hate speech.. In 2016, it took a significant step by establishing a code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online. This code of conduct was established in close collaboration with Microsoft, Twitter and Youtube and a common methodology to assess the reactions of these companies once they are notified of illegal hate speech was established. In the third evaluation of this code of conduct held in December 2017, it resulted that IT companies had removed 70% of hate speech notified to them- – an increase from the 28% observed in the first monitoring exercise conducted in 2016.

During this exercise, 2,982 notifications were submitted with the data covering 27 Member States (all except Luxembourg). Notifications of illegal hate speech were sent by 33 civil society organisations and two national authorities during the period November 6 to December 15, 2017. During this period, there were eight notifications sent by the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) which was the only organisation to participate during this test period. During this test period, Facebook received the largest amount of notifications (1,408), followed by Twitter (794) and Youtube (780).

This call for projects runs in parallel with the above-mentioned code of conduct with the priority being that of funding projects which will build the capacity of civil society to notify IT companies on hate speech, the promotion of critical thinking by internet users, the tackling of online hate speech against journalists and promoting the development of tools and practices which will monitor and combat hate speech.

Activities covered under this call include the development of online tools geared towards the countering of hate speech online and data collection, capacity building and training activities, dissemination and awareness raising activities on hate speech online, the exchange of best practices, including the identification of those best practices which may be transferable to other participating countries.

Following the implementation of projects funded through this call, it is expected that there will be a decrease in current trends of illegal hate speech on the internet, and an improved data recording and establishment of trends including the effects of illegal hate speech online on democracy players such as journalists. The Commission’s goal also includes the empowering of civil society organisations in their activities when it comes to combating hate speech online, further increasing awareness of the public on the dangerous impacts of hate speech online and strengthening of cooperation between internet companies, national authorities and civil society when it comes to the prevention and countering of hate speech online.

Eligibility and assistance
Eligible applicants may be public bodies or private organisations; at least two organisations, either national or transnational, must be involved in the project. The total EU grant applied for cannot be lower than € 75,000 with the EU co-funding rate being that of 80% of the eligible costs.

Should you wish to receive assistance in the EU funding application process, you can set up an appointment with the EU funding team at MEUSAC by sending an e-mail to funding.meusac@gov.mt or by calling on 2200 3300. It is of utmost importance that potential applicants are aware of the fact that in order to be considered for the funds, applicants must satisfy the programme’s priorities.

The deadline to apply for the call is October 11, 2018.

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