A Victory Against Online Peddlers of Hatred
In the space of three months the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, in cooperation with Allegro (the biggest online e-commerce platform in East-Central Europe), has effected the removal of over 1,000 auctions of newly manufactured items with racist, fascist and antisemitic content. The platform has now turned to the representatives of the association with a suggestion that they develop systems for recognising and eliminating all such future offers.
The items offered for sale included, among others, necklaces, signet rings and badges with Nazi swastikas, contemporary imitations of Nazi military decorations, a brass bust of Hitler, watches, lighters and flasks with emblems of the Third Reich, Hitler Youth pocket knives, mugs with images of Hitler, T-shirts with the inscription ‘No apologies for Jedwabne’ (Jedwabne is a town in North-East Poland where in 1941 a group of Poles burned to death hundreds of their Jewish neighbours), CDs with music by the leading neo-fascist bands, and even a contemporary coffee grinder with an SS symbol.
‘The Internet has become a space in which hatred is propagated on a large scale and in various ways. Allegro, the largest e-commerce company in Poland, has decided to strive to eradicate this type of offers and we are more than pleased with the results of our cooperation ‘ – said Dr Anna Tatar from the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. – ‘A lot of effort is still needed to make objects or publications with racist and antisemitic content disappear from this site for good.’
‘It seems particularly important to remove numerous auctions offering neo-fascist music. Music is a strong carrier of ideologies, including racist extremism. When we searched Allegro we saw how easy it was to find albums of bands whose songs had references to Mein Kampf, the Aryan race, the tearing out of >the Hebrew root<, the white revolution, or national socialism. Today, the availability of such releases has been significantly reduced’ – said Jacek Dziegielewski from the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association.
Thanks to the cooperation with ‘NEVER AGAIN’, hundreds of sale offers have been removed by Allegro. Over 640 of them related to items such as replicas / imitations of Nazi decorations and 230 were auctions of CDs with fascist music. There were over 70 jewellery auctions (signet rings, pendants), over 30 auctions of T-shirts with antisemitic and racist slogans, as well as more than 50 auctions of other Nazi-style gadgets, such as watches or lighters with SS symbols.
The deletion of sales offers or auctions which are contrary to law is permitted by articles 256 and 257 of the Polish Criminal Code together with the provisions in Appendix No. 1 to the Allegro Code of Conduct. Allegro has also developed a programme named ‘The Rights Protection Cooperation’ under which the service aims to eliminate illicit offers. On 21 March 2018, the International Day for Combatting Racial Discrimination, ‘NEVER AGAIN’ became an official partner in this program for a three-month pilot period. Currently both organisations are working together to develop further methods of cooperation.
Established in 1999, Allegro is one of the biggest Internet sales companies in Europe. In 2017, it had over 16 million users and more than 20 million accounts. Between 2008 and 2016 it was owned by the South African corporation Naspers (formerly Nationale Pers, a company linked with the apartheid system). For years, the platform was used for sales of racist and fascist propaganda products.
The campaign of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association against the sales of items with racist material on Allegro commenced as far back as 2009. That year a petition appealing for the removal of such auctions was signed by several thousand people, including well-known figures from the fields of culture and civil society. A court case related to the campaign led to a Supreme Court ruling in 2015, in which the Supreme Court of Poland stated the criticism of the company by activists and artists for allowing the sales of racist materials was legitimate. The continued campaign led Allegro to its later decision to establish cooperation with ‘NEVER AGAIN’.
For over a decade now the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has been taking various actions to stop the promotion of racist and antisemitic hatred on the Internet. Its programme called ‘Racism-Delete’ has had a number of successes. One of them was the decision by the Polish authorities in 2014 to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime together with the Additional Protocol on combatting racism.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association was founded in Warsaw in 1996 by Marcin Kornak (1968-2014). Throughout the years it has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. It has conducted anti-racist educational campaigns in the field of music and sports and it has been personally supported by numerous figures including Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is also a member of the International Network against Cyber Hate (INACH), which brings together organizations from twenty countries fighting hatred and discrimination on the Internet.