Web portal hopes to stop hate speech

  • 2007-10-31
  • By Kimberly Kweder
VILNIUS - Lithuania's popular news portals are participating in a Web project designed to steer Internet users away from using hate speech when posting comments on online forums.

"Neburnok!" ("Don't Speak Evil"), launched Oct. 24, is part of a movement by news portals to educate forum users about online civility and the responsibilities that go along with posting comments on the Web. The initiative is funded by Delfi.lt and several other portals. It can be found at www.neburnok.lt.
The Neburnok! Web site is not for writing comments, but about understanding the concept behind Web comments, Monika Garbaciauskaite, editor-in-chief of Delfi.lt, told The Baltic Times.
"It is an educational project that encourages people to be nicer in commenting during discussion forums," she said. "It's just an initiative of the Web portal on how to get comments published on Web sites, understand who reads it before it goes online, and any legal responsibilities you have before writing [for example] racist or homophobic comments."

Delfi.lt's content manager removed about 12,000 comments from its discussion forums during the third week of October.
"The amount is huge and sometimes [the comments] are rude and we have to cope with it. We use Neburnok! to encourage people to not write any nasty speech or negative comments on Delfi or on any other Web site," said Garbaciauskaite.
Portals alfa.lt, lrt.lt, balsas.lt, vz.lt, vtv.lt and more than 20 others have already joined the project.
People who feel personally attacked by a Web site comment have some legal protections under Lithuanian law.

Jolanta Samuolyte, research director of the Human Rights Institute, said a large number of "improper comments" on Delfi.lt and lrytas.lt were picked up from news articles about the International Lesbian and Gay Association conference in Vilnius.
"We are constantly sending notifications to the Journalist and Publisher's Ethics Commission and suing the media on inappropriate comments," said Samuolyte.
Web site publishers interested in Neburnok! can download the link and place it on their own sites for readers to access.

Estonia has launched a similar project, www.leim.ee.