Faced with a climate of hatred that pervades Europe, MEPs in Brussels will discuss on Wednesday the increasing verbal and physical violence against politicians. This is a reality that Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini knows well. She denounced the violation of rule of law in Hungary and since then she has been targeted. Sargentini claims the Hungarian government is behind those attacks.
“They went as far as to put advertisements in newspapers, commercials on TV and now lately the Hungarian government is actually paying for pushing their twitter comments on me into the Dutch and Belgian twitter space”, she says.
On January 14, Paweł Adamowicz the mayor of Gdansk, Poland was fatally stabbed
But politicians themselves are responsible for fueling this kind of violence. By claiming freedom of expression, extremist forces have managed to bring hate speech into the political discourse in the last two decades, Jonas Lefevere expert of communication at the Vesalius College in Brussels explains.
“It has to do with an increase of electoral volatility, where you see that parties and candidates now have to fight more intensively in order to maintain their electoral shares”.
Fragmentation of traditional media and the competition with social media places politicians in a stronger position to set the rules of the political discourse
“Social media platforms themselves carry a huge responsibility there: it is their platform where these messages are posted so in that sense they have a responsibility”.
Facebook is starting to understand that: on Monday the company’s general affairs manager declared they will set up tools to tackle political misinformation in the view of EU elections.