Buffalo Human Rights Law Review


Eva Nave

First Page


Document Type



In Copyright


Today, around 5 billion people communicate through the Internet. While the benefits of online communication are undeniable, we also witness the proliferation of online hate speech, often associated with an increase in offline violence. Internet intermediaries and public bodies have developed frameworks to counter online hate speech. However, current frameworks lack a standardized approach to the conceptualization of hate speech. Some conceptualizations are overbroad, and others are underinclusive; overbroad because they lead to the removal of legal content (e.g. removal tools deleting legal content posted by marginalized communities), and underinclusive as the context of posts by linguistic minorities is often disregarded. This Article proposes a new legal conceptualization of hate speech in the European context. It does so by analyzing the European regulatory framework through the lens of the first legal conceptualizations of hate speech deriving from critical (race) theory and (black) feminist intersectionality theory. The European focus is justified by the need to standardize at the regional level the legal requirements in current and future policies to counter online hate speech. The methodology is doctrinal, normative, and meta-legal. There are two main findings. First, this Article suggests that the European regulatory framework needs to explicitly acknowledge the conceptualization of hate speech by critical legal scholars as expressions intended to perpetuate historical or systematic oppression. Second, this Article advocates that the conceptualization of hate speech in the European context can only achieve legal cohesion when all European regulatory instruments expressly account for the intersectionality of systems of oppression.