In April 2019, Facebook banned several far-right groups for being “dangerous”. In June, YouTube began banning videos promoting racial supremacism, while Twitter has also booted far-right figures off its platform. The bannings have led to howls of political bias (with US President Donald Trump even setting up an online tool to report “censorship” on social media platforms). So, what’s the right approach?

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Civis, who suggests that freedom of speech comes with responsibility. Civas thinks that there should be some limits to free speech, particularly where there is the potential for violence.

To get a response, we put Civas’ comment to Eva Simon, Senior Advocacy Officer for the Civil Liberties Union for Europe. What would she say?

I agree that freedom of expression is something that is very important and our democracy is based on, among other values, freedom of expression. But it’s not an unlimited right. The question is: how much limitation we think is valid and useful for democratic society. And there are pretty good tests elaborated by the European human rights court and also the literature of legal cases and fundamental rights.

I think the question here is what kind of limitations we believe we should have and I think we can use the three item test here. One is that the limitation always has to be prescribed by law. The limitation has to be necessary, so there should be some pressing social need to limit freedom of expression. And, any type of limitation has to be proportionate.

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Matej, who argues that censoring extremist groups on social media is like “putting a band-aid over a broken window” and fails to tackle the root of the problem, or provide a lasting solution. He also adds that censoring these groups would likely have the reverse effect, and actually encourage their growth. Is he right?

How would Eva Simon respond?

This is a very interesting question and this is the real debate we are having all over Europe regarding extremists online and how to tackle the problem of extremism. My understanding is that his question is whether it is effective or not to ban anyone from social media platforms. And the answer for that really depends on what we ban and how we ban certain content from the internet. Because what we can see if something is banned, in a few minutes or a few hours, alternatives appear and they spread the same kind of information.

On the other hand, the question is how we and why we believe that banning is a solution instead of getting into debates. And for this I think we should also tackle the problem of the roles of these big social media platforms or not only social media platforms but big platforms where users can upload their comment such as Facebook, YouTube, even Twitter or Google, some of the big ones, how they delete and when they delete certain content.

Should extremist and far-right groups be banned on social media? Or does that just allow them to claim a moral victory? Is it more effective to debate and discredit them publicly? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Wikipedia (cc) Rufus46; Portrait Credits: (cc) Gergely Poharnok

32 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    yes Hatred should not be heard. It should be hidden, as well as the shameful sick people who possess it.

  2. avatar

    In the name of free speach? Why not Antifa, extreme left and extreme liberals? That question does not even come to your mind, right?

  3. avatar

    Everything but YES IT HAS TO BE BANNED it’s just a waste of words

  4. avatar

    AndAnd far- left isn’t a problem then??. Stop the indoctrination in Europe!

  5. avatar

    Certenly not. If done so, what is the difference with a dictatorship???

  6. avatar

    No, where is the fun in this?

  7. avatar

    I guess the “ultra-left” are just fine doing their thing :)))

  8. avatar

    I take issue with the Polish flags in the background. What is “far right” about a national flag?

    • avatar

      Władysław that’s what being “far right” means in 2019. Not being a globalist. They have to say “far right” because “patriot” doesn’t make you look like a Spielberg movie villain enough in the eyes of the common people.

  9. avatar

    No, this is the best way of actually knowing who they are, where they are, and what they are thinking.

    • avatar

      Só a extrema esquerda é que pode, não é? 😂😜

    • avatar

      vai plantar batatas.

  10. avatar

    Far left extremists groups should also be banned. Fair is fair.

  11. avatar

    Only, if the libtards and far left are banned.

  12. avatar

    Any retrictions should be based on whether the content breaks the law.. eg incitement to violence..defamation etc.
    Its not a question of right/left…religious views etc.

  13. avatar

    Should far-left groups be banned on social media?

  14. avatar

    I think there should be a system for monitoring content and maybe inserting banners with warnings such as “this post/page contains politically extreme views and claims which are not substantiated by facts”, but I feel that banning such groups because of their views is something that the far-right (or far-left) would themselves do and goes against my views of democracy. The only exception I would make is if a group was deliberately promoting violence or violent/harmful acts of discrimination.

  15. avatar

    Why only the far-right? Either all political extremists should be banned (nazis, fascists, anarchists, communists, radical religious revolutionaries, etc.), or none.

  16. avatar

    No. It’s a slippery slope. Freedom of speech should be protected no matter what shit is being spewed.

  17. avatar

    No. Because in this day and age anything short of far left IS far right.

  18. avatar

    Only far left groups which are destroying society throughout the world…

  19. avatar

    Who defines far right and what about the far left?

  20. avatar

    Of course not. EU parliament have a lot a extreme leftists

  21. avatar

    Seriously? They do more good than harm by spreading their primitive message. I would rather encourage them to be more active so more people can see what troglodytes they really are.

  22. avatar

    Yes, together with far-left and anarchist groups

  23. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    It doesn’t matter what the groups are – far left, far right or whatever label we assign to them. What matters is hatred. If any site promotes war, death, violence, destruction, harm and suffering of others as something good, it needs to be banned, because it is encouraging criminal acts. But if it is just about expressing controversial opinion, then it should be left, but with a warning to its visitors that its content may offend their own views and beliefs. Controversial opinions are acceptable as free speech, but insults should be censored.

  24. avatar
    Vincenzo, Gaia, Alice, Gift

    We think that there is freedom of expression, but it finishes when there isn’t respect for other people. But banning extremist groups isn’t the solution to the problem, because they will continue in real life.

  25. avatar
    catherine benning

    The EU is extreme.

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.