In the Global Vantage Law & Society Exchange Workshop 2022, students from four countries (Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan) got together to discuss various human rights issues in each country. The program consisted of three parts: (1) keynote lectures on the human rights issues in Japan, (2) group discussions and presentations, and (3) cultural exchange, in which students from each country introduced their traditional food and trendy food.
My group presented about online hate speech in two countries, Taiwan, and Japan. Online hate speech is on the increase in the era of internet-led global community, and we decided to figure out the whole picture of it. Then, we focused on four topics: (1) the difference between online hate speech and its other forms, (2) the current situation surrounding hate speech, especially its impacts on social media, (3) company’s role in preventing hate speech, and (4) regulations and experiences about hate speech in our own countries.
I especially enjoyed discussing how online hate speech should be regulated. We reached a conclusion that in Japan, we should impose some obligations on companies to delete defamatory contents online instantly and efficiently. It is usually difficult to eliminate online contents completely because they are usually found elsewhere, possibly on the same platform under a different name. For this reason, it is essential to remove contents instantly, to prevent them from spreading further.
After looking at how other countries regulate hate speech, we were able to get a hint of how to improve the current situation in Japan. For example, we referred to the German law against online hate speech. This law stipulates that SNS companies must delete defamatory contents within seven days. The companies must also establish a system which allows users to report defamatory contents at any time. So far, more than thirty percent of reported defamatory comments were deleted. Another hint we learned from Germany was the establishment of a national institution, which deals with and adjudicates borderline cases. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a content is defamatory or not. For example, the line between criticism and defamation is not always clear. Deleting comments that don’t fall into the category of hate speech could lead to over-regulation and threaten freedom of expression. This institution helps to prevent such circumstances.
Personally, this program was very challenging because I did not have a lot of opportunities to exchange opinions with my fellow students from other parts of the world. I was impressed and stimulated by other students actively participating in the group discussions. I felt that I need to study harder and improve my self-assertiveness without making an excuse for not striving to work hard due to the corona virus.