Far-Right Extremism: Is it Legitimate Freedom of Expression, Hate Crime, or Terrorism?

Following the rise in far-right inspired terrorist attacks globally, social media and electronic communications companies have been criticized, mainly by politicians, for allowing far-right extremist content to be available. This article is a comparative legal study focusing on Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.’ legal provisions regarding the right to freedom of expression, hate crime, and proscription of terrorist organizations. This study found a disparity in the form of expression protected under this right. This disparity widens further when related to hate crime and proscribing groups as terrorist organizations. As such, social media and communications companies have difficulty setting at global level a baseline in determining whether content is legitimate commentary or is extremism promoting or inciting hatred and violence. The article concludes with a recommendation for how states can provide comparable legislation on hate crime as they have done in relation to Islamist inspired extremism. This will assist social media and communications companies in removing content and suspending accounts. These companies are not the guardians of freedom of expression, that is the role of states’ legislatures and judiciary.

Tags: far-right, Freedom of Expression, hate crime, Neo-Nazi, terrorism