ZAGREB, October 10, 2020 – A comprehensive survey of Croatian media, which in some aspects spans over a period of more than six years and covers more than 14 million published items, reveals the presence of hate speech in them that is growing on a daily basis.
Marko Poljak, Jelena Hadzic and Masa Martinic of Newton Technologies Adria, which specialises in technologies that identify hate speech in Croatian, Slovenian and Serbian, and Presscut, a media monitoring company, conducted this comprehensive analysis of the media content in terms of the presence of hate speech and the events that encouraged it, and they published it in the latest issue of the In Media Res magazine.
The survey focused on two types of content, the first being media items in the period from early 2013 to the end of April 2019. More than 14 million individual items were found, in print media, radio and television news programmes and on news portals, and they included 50,724 items containing hate speech.
The second type of content were comments on social networks. A total of 72,000 comments, posted in the period from early April to early July 2019, were analysed and among them were 1,012 comments with unacceptable speech, which accounts for 1.4% of the comments.
Facebook post of HDZ MP’s son encouraged most hate comments
The most media items containing hate speech were published on web portals, 0.58%, and the least on radio, 0.04%, and their total number grew by the 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.
The largest increase as well as the largest number of hate comments was recorded in 2016, and the increase in the number of such comments on web portals exceeded 300%, shows the survey.
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, and the largest number, as many as 287 items with unacceptable content, was recorded on 9 January 2019.
Media posts containing hate speech are often connected with certain events. The authors of the survey note that most posts, as many as 523, were connected with an insulting message Ivan Djakic, the son of HDZ MP Josip Djakic, posted on his Facebook wall on the occasion of Serb Orthodox Christmas, January 9.
A week later, Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava’s statement drew 235 posts containing hate speech and he was criticised for causing a “spiral of hate speech”.
Penava said at the time that Vukovar is “the epicentre of a continued, creeping Great Serbian aggression” and showed at a news conference a video of a group of local Serb students sitting while the national anthem was played at a football match.
Facebook posts most numerous, YouTube posts account for largest share
The largest number of comments were collected on Facebook, 58,847, and 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%.
Most unaccaptable comments were provoked by posts related to Serbs, 12,837. The least comments with unacceptable speech were prompted by posts that referred to Roma, 1,448.
The largest number of individual unacceptable comments referred to Bosnians, 175, and the largest share of negative comments in the total number of comments collected referred to Muslims and Jews, 2.25 and 2.22% respectively.
Negative comments about migrants accounted for the smallest share in the total number of comments, 0.54%, while 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.
The question of why certain groups attract a smaller or bigger number of unacceptable comments was not the subject of this survey. The answer to that question requires a deeper analysis of the items published, the related events and context, and possibly persons who posted comments, the authors of the survey conclude.