2 Nov 2012

Govt urged to regulate Facebook hate speech

8:46 pm on 2 November 2012

Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres is calling on the Government to create social networking protocols to deal with racial hate comments on internet sites such as Facebook

The Commission says the number of complaints about racial discrimination on the internet is increasing.

This week it received reports about a Facebook page made up by Taranaki high school students denigrating Maori.

Mr de Bres says international organisations such as Facebook fall outside of New Zealand's jurisdiction - and can be stubborn to deal with.

Solutions are needed to tackle the cyber-abuse, he says.

Global internet sites don't have the kind of accountability mechanisms that apply to domestic broadcasters or newspapers - a matter the Law Commission has been considering this year.

Mr de Bres says there need to be new structures nationally and internationally to address the issues.

Racism not typical - principal

The principal of Inglewood High School in Taranaki says the racist behaviour of some of its students, whose Facebook page has been closed down, does not reflect the nature of her school or her community.

Two junior students were disciplined by the school for setting up the initial Facebook page that encouraged racial discrimination against Maori.

The page was created on Tuesday and attracted nearly 10,000 supporters before it was shut down following complaints to Facebook and the Human Rights Commission.

But principal Rose Mabin says Inglewood High School does not tolerate racism and is embarrassed by the attention it's caused.

She says it is a shame that her school is getting national publicity for such a negative thing.

Ms Mabin says Inglewood High School is an inclusive and family-like community, and the perceived intolerance of a very few is certainly not the behaviour of the majority.

She says the two boys who made up the page created it in their own time outside of school hours, as it is not the school's policy to allow students to log on to Facebook during school time.

Ms Mabin says one of the administrators of the page posted an apology on the site just before it was closed down by Facebook.

Since the students' Facebook page was taken down, another page with a similar anti-Maori opinion has launched.