Quand un iPhone devient dangereux

Peter Molnar examine comment la vitesse et l’ubiquité des appareils mobiles ont changé le contexte du «discours de haine» en ligne.

Il n’y a pas si longtemps, le racisme et autres incitations à la haine sur internet ne semblaient pas pouvoir causer un danger de violence imminent. Le développement rapide de l’accès à internet sur les dispositifs mobiles a changé cette situation. Ceux qui sont infectés par le virus du préjudice peuvent maintenant rechercher des conseils idéologiques ou même des instructions pratiques sur des sites internet qui incitent à la haine contre des groupes souvent perçus avec hostilité ou en tant qu’ennemis menaçants et qui peuvent donc être attaqués sous couvert de l’autodéfense.

J’écrivais dans le contexte de la gay-pride en 2008 à Budapest:

«Les incitations décisives à la violence sur internet, même si elles sont quelque peu distantes et postérieurement (ce qui ne va plus nécessairement être le cas avec les appareils mobiles) associées avec un ‘discours de haine’ lors de la manifestation, remplissent tous les critères pour l’interdiction de discours qui produisent ou contribuent directement et clairement à créer un danger de violence tangible. L’incitation à la violence sur internet, même si elle est ciblée et décisive, est peut-être encore plus hors des sentiers battus que le ‘discours de haine’ en direct lors de la manifestation.»

Quatre ans plus tard, un nombre de plus en plus important de personnes avec des appareils mobiles ont accès à internet dans un espace toujours croissant. L’incitation à la violence n’est plus nécessairement «quelque peu distante et antérieure». Elle peut être exactement là, dans l’environnement explosif d’un stade de football ou d’un bar.

Alors que je considérais les incitations à l’encontre de la gay-pride à Budapest en 2008, j’argumentais ainsi:

«Au vu du caractère décisif des incitations à la violence, il est nécessaire de se rappeler que l’exemple le plus terrifiant d’un usage, aux conséquences directes, des moyens de communication moderne pour produire de la violence fut celui de la radio lors du génocide au Rwanda. Outre la haine qu’elle répandait, la Radio-Télévision Libre des Milles Collines fournissait des informations continues, bien ciblées et pratiques pour les criminels à la recherche de victimes.»

Le développement des appareils mobiles a changé le contexte du «discours de haine». Les incitations sur internet à l’encontre de groupes cibles, souvent des minorités discriminées, telles les Roms hongrois, peuvent atteindre toujours plus de personnes que la radio autrefois, sans contrainte de lieu ou d’ordinateur.

Ce qui suit n’est pas un argument pour une large restriction de la liberté d’expression sur internet ou la radio. Ces outils sont des technologies de la liberté qui permettent un discours public ouvert, robuste et participatif. Comme je le disais, «vouloir interdire des contenus spécifiques d’un discours… surtout sur internet, c’est un peu comme essayer d’attraper une ombre. La prohibition légale devrait être réservée pour les incitations qui présentent un danger imminent. … l’art et l’éducation au sens le plus large sont les meilleures mesures préventives contre le ‘discours de haine’; ils peuvent soigner efficacement le public atteint de préjudice en attaquant les racines du mal que sont l’ignorance, l’incompréhension et les fausses croyances.»

Au lieu de répéter sans fin des arguments en faveur de l’interdiction de contenus spécifiques relatifs au ‘discours de haine’ sur internet en pensant qu’internet favorise la diffusion du ‘discours de haine’ (puisqu’il rend plus facile la communication de tout contenu, y compris les réponses au discours de «haine»), je propose une approche alternative.

Concentrons-nous sur le contexte technologique et ses changements dynamiques afin de déterminer quand les discours racistes et autres incitations semblables sur internet sont susceptibles de causer un danger imminent. Concentrons-nous sur les situations dans lesquelles les appareils de communication mobiles peuvent faire directement le pont entre les incitations à la violence en ligne et les endroits dans le monde où la violence peut réellement se produire. Dans de tels endroits, l’incitation à la haine sur internet peut créer le danger imminent avec une relation causale directe entre l’incitation en ligne et le danger clair et actuel. Les appareils mobiles semblent établir une frontière entre la parole qui est constitutionnellement protégée, même si son contenu doit être moralement condamné, et l’incitation qui doit être interdite dans les contextes où elle créerait un danger imminent.

Peter Molnar est co-éditeur et auteur d’un chapitre de The Content and Context of Hate Speech: Rethinking Regulation and Responses (Le Contenu et le contexte du discours de haine: repenser les lois et les solutions).

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Commentaires (4)

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  1. Ohh what an informative article, I didn’t know about it before, in fact, I came to know about these issues through your article, I recently bought an iPhone 10 from https://www.reecoupons.com but obviously, in my opinion, it’s good for all apple users, nobody can use it for any wrong purpose.

  2. Response to ‘When an iPhone can be dangerous’ by Peter Molnar

    We are two students who are currently looking into the language of Taboo and Hate Speech. When we stumbled across your article, When an iPhone can be dangerous we could not resist but to write a response.

    The arguments in the text primarily focuses on the negative aspects of technology, while the positive factors are neglected. What about the use of the iPhone that is actually beneficial to us? To call the emergency number (112/911) when in trouble, instead of having to scream your lungs off; to donate money through simply one text message, supporting various charity organizations and being able to make the world a better and healthier place?

    Technology is the effect, not the cause.

    People even argue that gadgets such as the iPhone is making us more organized.
    A calendar at our fingertips makes it easy to slip in appointments, reschedule or cancel and is able to notify you when you have an event scheduled. This makes it impossible for a lazy someone to ‘forget’ to do the dishes, vacuum or put dirty clothes in the damper. The iPhone simply answerers our request for bigger, faster and stronger.

    Your statement about the communication in the Rwandan Genocide, is in fact not merely the radio that was the primary issue of the destructive event but rather the past history that was the main cause of it. The technology indeed supported the genocide in the way that communicating propaganda and messages became simpler but the radio was only a small factor. The colonization of the Belgians and the following death of the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, agitated its citizens and created a barrier between them. To be branded by one’s looks as an ‘either or’ object (Tutsi or Hutu) intensified the anger as time went on, especially since one side, the Tutsi, was seen as the ‘better’ by the Belgians.

    Technology can evoke hatred, but it has also brought out an entire revolution, the Arab Spring. Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, is the cause for this imminent and rapid change of events. Due to its simplicity and availability it is easy to bring thoughts and ideas to millions who might otherwise not be connected. Wael Ghonim chief and symbol of the revolution in Egypt states “This revolution started online. … We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I’ve always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet.”

    You also state “In such environments, incitement to hatred on the internet can create imminent danger with a direct causal connection between online incitement and clear and present danger”. What is imminent danger, and how would one measure it in this context? The sentence seems rather vague and hyperbolic. Also throughout the article, you move quickly from one strong example to another, but barely provide any counter examples for support; it leaves the reader confused and with examples that are simply floating around.

    Technology indeed has the capability to bring a person into danger, as well as being able to do the exact opposite. However, one ought not to forget that the use of the hand-held brain (the iPhone) has made our lives change into a whole other dimension.

    From the students in the American School of the Hague

  3. The Internet has become one of the largest sources of communication between people globally. Aside from the increasing communication, technology allows people to watch and receive global news at a faster speed and allows people to create websites and express their opinion freely on specific issues. Blogs and opinion articles have become increasingly popular and are easily accessible through technological devices such as smartphones and laptops. This exact platform can be used to excite hatred targeting a community, group of people or an issue.

    Take, for example, a harmless Tumblr blog that belongs to a teenage fan of the popular band One Direction. She publishes posts expressing her hatred towards the girlfriend of one of the members of the band. The fan claims that the girlfriend is fake and a scheme to hide the band member’s homosexuality. The blog has over 100,000 followers, which lead to a cult of fans freely posting confessions and opinions about the relationship. The blog has earned a lot of fame, and with more confidence than when she started, the owner of the blog now bids her followers to send twitter threats to the girlfriend. This is a small example, but has a huge impact on all the parties involved and carries a powerful message of how people use technology to spread opinions that lead to “hate speech,” or speech that specifically targets a person or group on basis of race, religion and sexual orientation. Such sites should be taken down, because the hate is directed towards one person or group, and can hurt someone badly. However, one could argue that everyone has a right to express ones opinion, but using a public platform to blatantly direct hate towards someone is wrong.

    Another popular characteristic that triggers hate speech is anonymity. As technology has developed, people now have the advantage of anonymously publishing posts. This gives them a sense of security to freely communicate and allow people to be involved with things like scandals for example. Anonymity has led to many new issues, one of the biggest being cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has become a phenomenon around the world and is becoming increasingly popular. Recently, a new site has emerged called Ask.fm, which was intentionally created to ask a specific person innocent questions anonymously. However, it quickly escalated to a vehicle that allows you to bash that specific person with hurtful statements rather than questions without that person knowing whom it is. An article in CNN claims that teenagers use apps such as Ask.Fm to change their identity and make cruel statements to other teens, and it has become a big source of cyberbullying. A recent case of a suicide by a teen due to hate from Ask.fm has sparked discussion about whether sites like these should be abolished. Sites, such as Ask.fm do hurt people, and people should not be allowed blatantly hate on someone using such means.

    Despite the fact that technology has greatly benefitted the lives of many, and given the ability to freely post on the Internet, gives us a sense of freedom, however people have misused this facility. Instead the Internet has become one of the biggest and most accessible sources for hate crimes against communities or groups of people.
    Ria and Marijne, ASH Grade 11, English IB SL Yr-1

  4. Unfortunately the greatest danger inherent to ubiquitous technology is not found in the user or their actions.

    It is the tool itself and the perceptions of the abilities of that tool that are the real dangers.

    While surfing the web on an iPhone you would be forgiven for believing that you are granted unfettered access to all areas. In reality what you are permitted to view is a carefully filtered selection of results relative to your location, political situation or any other relevant factor.

    The naive belief that a Google search result is based solely on the search criteria is again understandable as our perception of the tool would imply this logic. However many would be disturbed to discover that their queries were actually producing results relative to the user’s profile and history instead of relevant search criteria.

    This enables organisations such as Google and Apple to effectively control free expression of thought by diverting users to more profitable or preferable services such as YouTube or iTunes, all without the knowledge or consent of their users.

    PROOF – search the same Google query from both yours and a friends computer whilst logged in and logged out, observe the differences.

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Le Débat Sur La Liberté d'Expression est un projet de recherche du Programme Dahrendorf pour l'étude de la liberté au Collège St Anthony, Université d'Oxford.

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