ZAGREB, October 10, 2020 (Hina) — An extensive survey of the Croatian media reveals the growing trend of hate speech in media content. It covers more than 14 million published items. Some of the examined aspects range over a period of more than six years.
Marko Poljak, Jelena Hadžić and Maša Martinić of Newton Technologies Adria, which specializes in technologies which identify hate speech in Croatian, Slovenian and Serbian, and Presscut, a media monitoring company, conducted the comprehensive analysis of the media content. In their paper, the authors discuss the current problem of legally regulated unacceptable behavior in the Croatian media space, including social networks, concentrating on the problem of hate speech. The fundamental question is whether the presence of hate speech is on the rise. Recently, they published their findings in the latest issue of In Medias Res magazine.
The survey focused on two types of content. First, all types of media items in the period from early 2013 until the end of April 2019. They found more than 14 million individual items, from print media, informative radio and television shows and news portals. 50,724 of them contained hate speech.
Secondly, the comments on social networks. They analyzed A total of 72,000 comments, posted in the period from early April until early July 2019. Among them were 1,012 comments with unacceptable speech, which accounts for 1.4% of the comments.
Facebook Post From Ivan Đakić Leads the Ranking
The most media items containing hate speech were published on web portals, 0.58%, and the least on radio, 0.04%, with the total number growing each year. The number of items containing hate speech, registered in only four months of 2019, exceeded the total number of such items in 2013, the first year of the survey.
In 2016, the largest increase as well as the largest number of hate comments was recorded. According to the survey, the increase in the number of those kind of comments on web portals exceeded 300%.
In a period of one year, starting on 1 May 2018, only one day, Christmas, was without hate speech. The average daily number of posts containing hate speech was 29.6. In fact, on January 9, 2019, they recorded 287 items with unacceptable content, the largest number in that year.
Media posts containing hate speech are often connected with certain events. The authors note that most posts, no less than 523, were related to an offensive message of Ivan Đakić. Ivan, son of HDZ MP Josip Đakić, posted something on the occasion of Serb Orthodox Christmas, January 9, on his Facebook page.
A week later, Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava‘s statement drew 235 posts containing hate speech. Subsequently, they criticized him for causing a “spiral of hate speech”.
At that time Penava said that Vukovar is “the epicenter of a continued, creeping Great Serbian aggression”. Also, he showed a video at a news conference of a group of local Serb students sitting while the national anthem was playing at a football match.
YouTube Posts Contain Most Unacceptable Language
Facebook covered the largest collected number of comments. 58,847 in total, of which 801 or 1.34% contained unacceptable language. YouTube comments accounted for the largest share of unacceptable comments in the total number of comments, of 3.33%.
Posts related to Serbs provoked the most unacceptable comments, namely 12,837. The least comments with unacceptable speech were prompted by posts that referred to Roma, 1,448.
However, the largest number of individual unacceptable comments referred to Bosnians, 175. The largest share of negative comments in the total number of comments collected, referred to Muslims and Jews, 2.25 and 2.22% respectively.
On the other hand, negative comments about migrants accounted for the smallest share in the total number of comments, being 0.54%. The average share of negative comments for all groups was 1.41%. The largest number of negative comments refer to ethnicity, 587, and religion, 337.
Generally, the authors state that the increase in the presence of unacceptable behavior and hate speech is Croatian everyday life.
“The question to why certain groups attract a smaller or larger share of unacceptable comments, was not the subject of this survey. To answer that question, it would require a deeper analysis of the items published, the related events and context, and perhaps the persons who posted comments,” the authors of the survey conclude.