Berlin: conference on the rise of online hate and conspiracy theories

There is an increasing number of instances of online hate speech and conspiracy theories. What is the reason for this? Who are the victims? Does online hate speech give rise to real violence against particular groups? What dangers do conspiracy theories pose? Does this have an impact on the public perception of journalism and are the media currently experiencing a crisis of trust? Should politicians be coming up with counter-measures?

These questions lied at the heart of a conference in Berlin on 13 February organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in conjunction with the Bundestag, as part of the activities of the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance. The event gathered nearly 140 participants, including government representatives, policy makers, civil society and media.

Speakers included Caren Marks, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth; Gerd Billen, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection; Frank Schwabe (Germany, SOC), Vice-Chair of the German delegation to PACE; Gabriela Heinrich (Germany, SOC), the initiator of the conference; and other members of the Bundestag.

Anne Brasseur (Luxembourg, ALDE), Ambassador of the No Hate Speech Movement; Milena Santerini (Italy, SOC), PACE General Rapporteur on combating racism and intolerance, and Co-ordinator of the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance; Cécile Kyenge, Co-president of ARDI (European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup); Sascha Lobo, blogger and online journalist, along with experts and academics also made a contribution. A synopsis was prepared by Anita Fünffinger, journalist and moderator of the conference.