What can be done to counter hate speech on the internet and in social media at time when online intolerance is widespread, and threatens democratic debate in societies?
A new WACC Europe report and resource kit – Breaking Down the Social Media Divides: A Guide for Individuals and Communities to Address Hate Online – published on 13 October offers case studies, tips and strategies, as well as resources for further action and specific examples of how people have responded to hateful online content.
The report can be downloaded at: www.wacceurope.org/nohatespeech
It offers resources particularly for individuals, small organisations, and community groups, such as churches, which may not have extensive expertise in managing social media, but want to start engaging when they see hateful content on the internet.
Stephen Brown, president of WACC Europe, said: “As social media is now a feature of our lives, we need as individuals and communities to find ways to break down divides, to build conversation, and to promote diversity and respect online.”
The report and guidelines come out of a one-year project to identify and promote strategies to counter online hate speech particularly focused on refugees and migrants, supported by the Otto per Mille Fund of the Waldensian Church in Italy.
According to a December 2018 survey by the European Commission, xenophobia (including anti-migrant hatred) was the most common type of hate speech reported to social media companies.
The focus on social media comes out of previous media monitoring conducted in seven European countries by WACC Europe and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe.
The results of this project – Changing the Narrative: Media Representation of refugees and Migrants in Europe – revealed generalised patterns of invisibility and misrepresentation and highlighted the need for direct inclusion of the voices and opinions of refugees and migrants in stories about them.
WACC Europe promotes communication as a basic human right, essential to people’s dignity and community. Rooted in Christian faith, WACC works with all those denied the right to communicate because of status, identity, or gender.