About the Dangerous Speech Project

The Dangerous Speech Project (DSP) was created to test a simple, original idea: that a particular type of public speech tends to catalyze intergroup violence, and that this knowledge might be used to prevent such violence. Susan Benesch developed this idea, coined the term Dangerous Speech (DS), and began the DSP in 2010.

We work in active, ongoing collaboration with a handful of academics and practitioners, and with selected organizations, such as the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, where Susan is a faculty associate, the Center for Communications Governance at the National Law University in New Delhi, the Digital Rights Foundation in Lahore, iHub Research in Nairobi, the Network Dynamics Lab at McGill University in Montreal, and Over Zero and the Nexus Fund in the United States. Since 2011 the DSP has also been in touch with Facebook, Twitter, Google and other Internet companies as an unpaid advisor, providing ideas for diminishing DS and other harmful content online while protecting freedom of speech.

Our ideas have been put to use for attempts to prevent violence in countries including Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the Czech Republic. In the first of these projects, the DSP produced guidelines for identifying DS and helped iHub Research in Kenya to use them as the basis for a monitoring system that has collected thousands of examples of DS from Kenyan online spaces. With iHub and other Kenyan colleagues, the DSP also pioneered several efforts to forestall violence by educating the Kenyan public on the nature of DS.

In Myanmar, the DSP worked with the pioneering anti-DS movement Panzagar, and organized a first international DS workshop, in Yangon in June 2014. Other DS workshops have taken place in Abuja, Bangkok, Dar es Salaam, and at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Project staff have spoken on DS and ways to counter it to audiences in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Sweden, Spain, and Turkey, and at universities including Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Humboldt, and the National Law University in India.

The Dangerous Speech Project is fiscally sponsored by New Venture Fund, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. We are deeply grateful for the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. We do not accept corporate or individual donations.