Building peace in the minds of men and women

Tackling online hate speech through media accountability in Albania

Hate speech in Albanian media and the balance between combatting intolerance and defending free speech were the topics of a roundtable held on 24 September in Tirana, Albania. The event was organized by the Albanian Media Institute in cooperation with UNESCO and the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM).

Gathering around 30 media professionals, together with representatives of international and civil society organizations and academics, the event was opened by H.E. Ambassador Ettore Sequi, the Head of the EU Delegation to Albania; Remzi Lani, Director of the Albanian Media Institute; and Adeline Hulin, UNESCO consultant.

Participants discussed the state of hate speech in Albanian media and its causes. “The boiling political debate is probably the main reason for hate speech in the [Albanian] media,” said Ilda Londo, researcher at the Albanian Media Institute. “The exact transcription  of political statements in the media further amplifies hate speech in the country.”

Reporting according to professional journalistic standards was presented as a solution to avoid sensationalism and counter the spread of intolerance and hatred in the media.

In addition, the event shed light on the grey areas and challenges brought by new technologies in the domain of media accountability and hate speech. The question of liability for users’ comments in online media was examined along with the moderation of comments as a tool for tackling the issue of hate speech. Participating Albanian media professionals discussed the need to update ethical guidelines following media digitization and adopt new rules for newspapers’ websites and discussion forums.

The event took place in the framework of the EU-UNESCO project, “Media Accountability in South East Europe”, which started in January 2013.