Focus Group about Hate Speech Online in Lithuania

As part of the project Pay Your Role Research about the Hate Speech in Video Game (the full report might be found here), an online focus group with 44 participants (aged 12-19) has been surveyed in Šiauliai, Lithuania by VšĮ EDUKACINIAI PROJEKTAI. The majority of respondents believe that you can learn certain knowledge, concentration, fast reaction, communication, etc. in games, however, more than half of them do not think that games can educate players not to practice hate speech. Based on the results, 64% of them say that players themselves are responsible for the prevention of hate, whereas 1/3 of claimed that it is the responsibility of platform managers to do this. What is alarming, is the fact that 77% of students believe that hate speech cannot be eliminated, because you “it is unavoidable part of life”. Another disturbing fact is that almost 1/3 of the respondents think that hate speech is normal, strengthens one’s mind also some respondents put the blame on the victim (that he/she provoked it). In addition, 65,9% of students think that hate speech should not be taken seriously, that it is just emotions speaking and you can choose to leave the game if you don’t like it. However, there are also those who are aware of serious consequences. 

Based on some of the answers, it seems that in this case hate speech most probably is intertwined with bullying in general, although there was a description of hate speech provided. Some respondents shared their experience:

  • “They want to insult you because you have won the game”.
  • “I was a person who bullied other in 2-4 grades. The reason for this was partially my lack of self-confidence. I tried to please others, find friends and look better than I was”.

 To solve the issue, some respondents were quite pessimistic because they think that there have been a lot of done already, while others suggested simply muting disrespectful players or reporting to the platform manager.

We hope that the pedagogical itineraries created within this project will contribute to the reduction of hate speech online and prove some students that video games indeed can contribute to this.