The European project Prism analyses the expression of hatred on the social network

The European project Prism (Preventing, redressing, inhibiting hate speech in new media) aims to analyse hate speech on the internet and pinpoint strategies to raise sensitivity to this issue.


The crime of expressing hatred and inciting hatred are directly connected. They have a big impact on the victims: words are weapons for minority groups and immigrants are assaulted by the expression of on-line hatred: these words serve to present the website The Prism Project.

The project is based on an interdisciplinary strategy: it combines research, the best training practices and activities for police officers, lawyers, bloggers, network administrators, teachers and youth monitors.

The objectives of the project are stipulated as follows:

  • Raise awareness of expressions of hatred with national and European studies.
  • Identify, research and fight against expressions of hatred and hate-related crime by mapping out their incidence on web sites and social media.
  • Monitor expressions of on-line hatred via a compilation of constant data related to the phenomenon.
  • Develop efficient tools in accordance with national regulations and correct the mechanisms to contrast on-line discrimination, hostility and violence.

. The five countries involved in this project are: Italy, France, Spain, Romania and the United Kingdom, and a range of entities are involved.1)

Within the Prism project, in-depth interviews of 150 young social network users and professionals related to law, education and security forces were carried out. The use of the network by xenophobic and extreme right wing groups in the five countries has also been studied.

Some conclusions

  • Passivity is the most common response from groups who suffer expressions of hatred on the internet. There is a permissive attitude concerning the contents of the network, sometimes due to a fear of the reaction to any response. This is reinforced by passivity on the part of those who administer the network when responding to users’ complaints. During the course of the project, there was an experiment which involved complaining to those responsible for Facebook about roughly a hundred comments which clearly incited hatred and violence, and only nine were removed.
  • There are no complaints to the police, to the judicial system or anti-racist organisations.
  • Legislation concerning expressing hatred is not standardised enough and there is a lack of specific training for those who have to take action against such messages on behalf of those administering the network (for this reason Prism organised workshops aimed at teachers and social educators, police officers and lawyers).

To inform of its research activities, Prism has drawn up the following report for European institutionsHate Crime and Hate Speech in Europe: Comprehensive Analysis of International Law Principles, EU-wide Study and National Assessments Hate Crime and Hate Speech in Europe: Comprehensive Analysis of International Law Principles, EU-wide Study and National Assessments and design public warnings against hate speech. The project’s webpage is presented as a blog, and is complemented with aFacebook, and the @prism_eu, which aims to be a reliable point of reference concerning the expression of hatred.

Source: University of Barcelona

1) The collaborators are: the Associació Recreativa i Cultural Italiana (ARCI), SOS Racisme de Guipúscoa, the the Lliga de l’Ensenyament (França), Raça a l’Agenda (ROTA, el Regne Unit), l’the Oficina Nacional contra la Discriminació Racial (UNAR, Itàlia), the Consell Nacional de Recerca (CNR, Itàlia), the Fundació d’Investigació Cittalia (Itàlia), l’associació Carta de Roma (Itàlia), the Fundació per al Desenvolupament de les Persones (Romania), the Institut Interregional de les Nacions Unides per a Recerques sobre la Delinqüència i la Justícia (UNICRI) i the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), where Olga Jubany, director of the European Social Research Unit (ESRU), coordinated the project.

You can download the Manual for the detection and indictment of crimes involving hatred and discrimination in Catalan or in Spanish

Related content in the Catalan police website: Lluitem contra l’odi i la discriminació. T’escoltem


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