Independent Media is planning to set up an advisory panel to investigate public hate speech on its websites, the company said on Thursday.
"The scope of the Advisory Panel will be to enquire into the prevalence of, make findings, report on and make recommendations concerning hate speech, personal attacks and defamatory statements contained in comments by the public on internet websites controlled by Independent Media," chief of staff Zenariah Barends said in a statement.
Executive chairman Iqbal Survé announced the formation of the panel.
"He indicated that the objective of the panel was to get advice on how best to prevent hate speech from proliferating on these digital platforms, while guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression."
The members of the panel would be media attorney Jacques Louw, who would chair the panel; Latiefa Mobara, public advocate at the Press Council; political analyst, lecturer and columnist, Eusebius McKaiser; Karima Brown and Anthony Robinson, chief content and chief technology officers at Independent.
"In making findings and recommendations the advisory panel shall take into account the Constitution of South Africa, any other relevant legislation and common law, media policies, including the Constitution of the Press Council of South Africa," said Barends.
Survé announced that he would initiate an enquiry into hate speech on IOL, following a virulent attack on 16-year old Kine-Dineo Mokwena-Kessi, who had written a piece in the Cape Argus, where she had interned in August.
Independent Online reported on August 15 that a "barrage of racist remarks" was posted on IOL in response to a comment piece by the teenager.
"At the time Dr Survé said he fully supported Mokwena-Kessi and the rights of people, youth in particular, to express their views on Independent's platforms, especially in the digital space," Barends said.
The panel would deliberate for one month and report back to Independent Media by October 31.