Hate speech and its proliferation in the media

Aims and Objectives

The overall aim of this project is to contribute to a better understanding of the shifting patterns of hate speech in Europe, with a particular focus on tackling its proliferation in the new media and the subsequent radicalisation of online space. As such, the specific objectives of this project are to analyse on the one hand the newly emerging patterns of prejudice that are affecting minority groups in Europe, and on the other to address the specific issues pertaining to the propagation of hate speech in the new media of communication associated with Web 2.0. The project thus addresses one of the most complex challenges to policy making in this field, respectively the need to strike a balance between the effective monitoring of online hate speech and the threat posed to individual liberty by the encroachment on personal freedom in the name of providing effective security. This project will be developed in cooperation with the Citizenship and Ethics Cluster at ECMI and will involve interested international partners as well.


The project starts from the premise that hate speech puts forth a political code for interpreting the world that promotes conflict and antagonism rather than tolerance and cooperation, and which often targets minority groups. From the resurgence of anti-Semitism during the last decade to the propagation of anti-Roma discourse and various forms of xenophobia, the proliferation of discriminatory discourse shows on the one hand a continuity with historical patterns of prejudice in the perpetuation of a rhetoric of radical difference and exclusion, and on the other the emergence of new conceptualisations that are adapted to contemporary European and global developments. The relative anonymity offered by virtual space, coupled with its ever-growing importance as a source of information and communication, particularly for youth, facilitates the dissemination of hate speech, as well as the establishment and maintenance of networks connecting radical groups across Europe. As a consequence, while previously limited and specific to national contexts, discriminatory discourse is now acquiring a distinctly European, if not global dimension, to which minority groups are particularly vulnerable.

Action Setup and Outcomes

Addressing a pressing need to investigate the new challenges associated with the proliferation of hate speech, the project seeks to carry out innovative research on this topic, as well as to establish a network of scholars and practitioners working on this subject. Shifting the focus of attention from an exclusive preoccupation with perpetrators in order to explore the role of government agencies and representatives of civil society in monitoring and reporting instances of hate speech, the project sees as one of its potential practical outcomes the formulation of policy recommendations that would lead to a more responsible and responsive media, and, in general, to strategies that would identify other means to counteract the proliferation of hate speech that would go beyond the criminalisation of its most excessive instances. As such, in line with ECMI’s vision of bridging the gaps between theory and practice, the project aims both to theoretically explore the dynamics of contemporary hate speech in Europe and to devise strategies for its practical containment and mitigation.



  • Two-part Collaborative Workshop ‘Anti-Semitism in Romania and Moldova’, organised in cooperation with the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Leicester, UK (Part 1: 2014, Leicester, UK; Part 2: 2015, Flensburg, Germany)
  • Workshop on the topic of “Hate Speech – Historical Patterns, Contemporary Challenges” (2016)
  • Creating a network of potential partners; developing a research strategy for the project.



Partner Institutions

University of Leicester (UK)


Dr. Raul Cârstocea

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State