Hate speech refers to any kind of communication that attacks or uses discriminatory language towards a person or group based on an identifying feature such as religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent or gender. Hate speech may incite violence and hostility towards persons or groups with certain identifying features, in violation of the fundamental human rights principle of non-discrimination.
Businesses must not participate in or endorse advertising or marketing campaigns containing hate speech which could incite discrimination or violence. The impact of hate speech in the modern world can be extensive when widely disseminated electronically and on social media. The United Nations has launched a ‘Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech’ in response to the increased use of hate speech, and the trend of intolerance hate speech generates.
Businesses should develop clear social media content guidelines and policies, and ensure employees receive training on the appropriate use of marketing and media platforms. In developing and implementing advertising or marketing campaigns, care should be taken to promote ethical speech that enhances the key principle of non-discrimination. Businesses should consider taking positive steps to address intolerance based on stereotypes. Education and advocacy are also instrumental as tools for counteracting hate speech.