The All Wales Hate Crime Project (Williams & Tregidga 2013, 2014)
highlighted the emerging problem of cyberhate and cyber bulling via social media
through interviews with victims. Opportunities for online engagement have
increased exponentially over the past two decades. In 1999 only 10 per cent of UK
households had access to the Internet. The number had grown to 53 percent in
2005 and to 85 per cent in 2015 (ONS 2015). Estimates put global social media
membership at approximately 2.5 billion non-unique users, with Facebook, Google+
and Twitter accounting for over half of these (Sloan et al. 2015, 2015, Williams et al.
2016). Open and widely accessible social media technologies, such as Twitter and
Facebook, are increasingly being used by citizens on a global scale to publish online
content. The diffusion of information in these networks can manifest itself in a
number of ways, ranging from the positive, such as support of social resilience
through calls for assistance and advice (Morell et al. 2011), to the negative, through
the production and contagion of misinformation and antagonistic and prejudiced
commentary (Burnap et al. 2013, 2014, Williams et al. 2013).
Hate Crime and its commission online is now recognised as a priority by the
UK Government. The sending of menacing messages via the Internet is now
punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment (Malicious Communications Act 1998 as
amended by the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2015). The Welsh Government
continues to implement ‘Tackling Hate Crimes and Incidents: A Framework for
Action’ and the fast paced evolution of social media is providing significant
challenges for partners and agencies. Despite this recognition, practitioners can
remain in the dark about the nature, prevalence and resources available to tackle
cyberhate and bulling on social media.
This conference aimed to address this knowledge gap via a series of keynote
presentations from high-profile leaders in the field and via hands on workshops.
This report outlines conference attendee experiences in relation to the current barriers and potential solutions in the area of cyberhate and cyber bullying and puts
forward national recommendations.