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  • I noticed a hate comment on the internet. How to report it?

I noticed a hate comment on the internet. How to report it?

Posting comments that incites to hatred[1] is a punishable offence. Authors of such comments violate the limits of freedom of expression and thus violate the equality and dignity of others.

If you suspect that a comment you have seen may contain hate speech, please report it:

To the social network or editorial team. Social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube have a feature that allows users to report inappropriate comments. This includes not only hate speech, but also violent and harassing comments. Social network administrators review reports of inappropriate content and decide whether such comments violate their content policies. If an infringement is detected, the comment is removed.

Hateful comments are also published in online news portals. In the comments section, users share their opinions and insights. If you see a comment that is offensive, derogatory, humiliating or hateful, you can report it to the staff responsible for monitoring comments. For example, on Delfi.lt, at the top of the comment box on the right-hand side, there is a button “Suggest removing”. It can be clicked to report that the content of a comment is inappropriate. On 15min, by clicking on the arrow in the right-hand corner, content can be marked as “inappropriate comment”. A comment is usually removed after a certain number of reports.

The Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics (OIJE). This independent public authority monitors internet content in Lithuania. It actively monitors public space, records hateful comments, cooperates with the media, and refers hateful postings to the relevant law enforcement authorities.

OIJE does not prosecute residents under the Criminal Code, but the Inspector of Journalists Ethics, after collecting and analyzing comments that may be classified as hate speech, refers them to the police with a proposal to open a pre-trial investigation. OIJE acts as a filter: it separates unethical, critical, opinionated comments from those that are genuinely criminal in nature.

Residents can send comments that have given rise to suspicions of possible incitement to hatred to OIJE by emailing zeit@zeit.lt or by submitting a complaint on Facebook. When transmitting information about a comment, it is important to take a screenshot, showing the link to the website, comment section, social network post.

As well as passing on information to the police, OIJE staff also contact the media to urge them to remove inappropriate comments, if necessary. This is a fairly effective tool for preventing hate speech.

The Inspector of Journalists Ethics does not monitor the content of radio and television.

The police or prosecutor’s office.  Potentially hateful comments can also be reported by filling in the electronic reporting form on the website “Epolicija.lt“. When informing law enforcement about hate speech, it is important to provide as much details as possible: a screenshot with a visible link, the media outlet where the comment was published etc. It is also a good idea to report possible hate speech on radio or TV to the police. In this case, it is important to give the exact time (or range) of the speech, the quotes, the persons who may have incited the hatred, the time, the radio station/TV channel and, if possible, a link to the online recording.

You can also report hate speech from the internet directly to the Prosecutor General‘s Office at Rinktinės g. 5A, LT-01515 Vilnius, or by email to generaline.prokuratura@prokuraturos.lt. For a sample report in Word format, click here: Sample report on possible incitement to hatred.

[1] According to the Criminal Code, incitement to hatred is defined as comments that ridicule, disparage, incite hatred or incite discrimination against a group of people or a person belonging to such a group on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, nationality, language, origin, social status, religion, beliefs or opinions. Hate speech also includes statements that incite violence or physical violence against a person or group on the basis of the above-mentioned personal characteristics.