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PRESS RELEASE CIVIL: Fake news and hate speech must be condemned, discouraged and sanctioned

CIVIL’s long-term monitoring is following and registering fake news and hate speech in the public communication, in the media and social networks and concludes a worrying rise of fake news and hate speech in recent period.

Of the numerous cases noted by the monitoring, in these past days the case of civil activist Kristina Kostova has also been noted, who is a victim of extreme hate speech. The hate speech against her was noted after a publically expressed public opinion on the social networks about weddings and unnecessary exposure to a health risk during the pandemic.

Following Kostova’s post, a large number of messages and comments that openly promote hate speech and call for violence against Kostova have been registered, by using insulting words and extreme expressions that are based on prejudice and stereotypes.

Kristina Kostova does not hold a public function, but just because as a citizen with a guaranteed right to freedom of opinion and expression she expressed a personal opinion, she has been a victim of public lynch by people who are not like-minded, to such an extent that she has been threatened with rape and murder!

CIVIL most strongly condemns the hate speech and expresses solidarity with all victims of hate speech. At the same time, CIVIL demands from the institutions to act accordingly and in accordance to the legal obligations, not to allow such hate speech to remain unsanctioned. Fake news and hate speech must be condemned, discouraged and sanctioned.

Based on this and many other registered cases in CIVIL’s monitoring, it has been concluded that the Macedonian society is facing serious consequences of infodemic, fake news and hate speech that arise from the destructive campaign of certain political and criminal centers of power in the country and in the world.

Therefore, CIVIL calls on the institutions to activate themselves as soon as possible and to take all necessary measures to discourage these severe forms of abuse of the social networks and the Internet media, through which hate speech is promoted. It is known that hate speech leads to acts of hatred, but even without that, it acts destructively on the public communication in a democratic society.

The possibility for each of us to freely express our opinion is one of the most significant values and an indicator of the democratic capacity of society. The hate speech that we are witnessing this period shows the democratic capacity of individuals and groups, more specifically, their inability to accept an opinion that is opposite of theirs. Even more obvious is the inability for them to develop a constructive debate on a certain topic.

A democratic public, especially the media and civil society organizations, have a responsibility to oppose and condemn hate speech.

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