Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech

Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech

This guide offers strategies and tools to prevent dangerous speech from influencing audiences, drawing from a range of disciplines—from political science to communications, from marketing to neuropsychology. Its author, Rachel Brown, is executive director of Sisi ni Amani International and a former fellow of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Understanding Harmful Speech Online

Understanding Harmful Speech Online

This paper offers reflections and observations on the state of research related to harmful speech online. The perspectives outlined here are grounded in the lessons from a year of exploratory work in the field by researchers at the Berkman Klein Center and collaborating researchers and institutions.

Defining Hate Speech

Defining Hate Speech

This essay seeks to review some of the various attempts to define hate speech, and pull from them a series of traits that can be used to frame hate speech with a higher degree of confidence. In so doing, it explores the tensions between hate speech and principles of freedom of expression, both in the abstract and as they are captured in existing definitions.

Grassroots Perspectives on Hate Speech, Race, and Inequality in Brazil and Colombia

Grassroots Perspectives on Hate Speech, Race, and Inequality in Brazil and Colombia

Through interviews with leaders of civil society organizations (CSOs) and a review of existing literature, this study discusses efforts and interventions that CSOs have employed to counter racial stigma faced by the collective population of Afro-descendant youth in an attempt to understand and examine signs of impact related to hate speech in Brazil and Colombia, distinct from existing overarching studies of online hate speech.

Preliminary Findings on Online Hate Speech and the Law in India

Preliminary Findings on Online Hate Speech and the Law in India

Hate speech is a serious concern in the Republic of India. However, Indian law does not use the phrase “hate speech.” Different forms of what may arguably be called hate speech are covered in different ways by various Indian statutes.  

This briefing paper outlines preliminary issues that we noted while conducting a detailed study of hate speech laws in India. It teases out some of the major concerns that arise in the context of both online and offline hate speech, especially speech as potential incitement to violence. 

Counterspeech on Twitter: A Field Study

This report, written for the Canadian government's Kanishka Project, explains the findings of the Dangerous Speech Project's two year study of hateful speech and counterspeech on Twitter. We review the existing literature on counterspeech, both in response to hateful speech and extremism; examine cases of counterspeech through the vector in which it was delivered; and develop a taxonomy of counterspeech strategies.

Mechachal – Examining the Dissemination of Hateful and Dangerous Speech on Social Media in Ethiopia

Mechachal – Examining the Dissemination of Hateful and Dangerous Speech on Social Media in Ethiopia

The Mechachal project, one of first academic studies to contextually examine how hate speech emerges and disseminates in social media, has released its final report. A collaboration between University of Oxford's Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy and Addis Ababa University, the research team examined thousands of comments made by Ethiopians on Facebook during four months around the time of the country’s general election. 

A Web of Hate: Tackling Hateful Speech in Online Social Spaces

Online social platforms are beset with hateful speech - content that expresses hatred for a person or group of people. Such content can frighten, intimidate, or silence platform users, and some of it can inspire other users to commit violence. Despite widespread recognition of the problems posed by such content, reliable solutions even for detecting hateful speech are lacking. In the present work, we establish why keyword-based methods are insufficient for detection. We then propose an approach to detecting hateful speech that uses content produced by self-identifying hateful communities as training data. Our approach bypasses the expensive annotation process often required to train keyword systems and performs well across several established platforms, making substantial improvements over current state-of-the-art approaches.

Dangerous Speech and Dangerous Ideology: An Integrated Model for Monitoring and Prevention

Dangerous Speech and Dangerous Ideology: An Integrated Model for Monitoring and Prevention

Jonathan Leader Maynard, and Susan Benesch (2016), Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal: Vol. 9, Iss. 3.

This paper draws together the authors’ independent past work on dangerous speech and the ideological dynamics of mass atrocities by offering a new integrated model to help identify the sorts of speech and ideology that raise the risk of atrocities and genocides. We suggest that this model should inform monitoring activities concerned with the risk of genocides and mass atrocities, and prevention efforts at the strategic and targeted levels. 

Charlie the Freethinker: Religion, Blasphemy, and Decent Controversy

This comment examines the tension between freedom of expression and freedom of religion by embedding the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a wider, century-old European tradition of publications mocking religion, including Christianity. It describes, and draws lessons from, the 19th century blasphemy case against the British Freethinker newspaper, whose “technique of offense” was similar to that of Charlie Hebdo. Finally, the comment tackles the problem of violent response to text or images that mock religion, pointing out that malicious intermediaries often carry such messages between social groups or across national borders—greatly escalating the risk of violence. 

Flower speech: new responses to hatred online

Flower speech: new responses to hatred online

Susan Benesch reviews efforts to counter hateful speech online in the Berkman Center for Internet and Society's report Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World.

New Technologies, Established Practices: Developing Narratives of Muslim Threat in Myanmar

This book chapter examines the communications practices that developed in Myanmar under authoritarian rule; everyday narratives regarding Islam as they are currently produced by organized political forces and circulate online and through everyday life; and how increasing access to technology and new media might interact with these practices and narratives.

Liking Violence: A study of hate speech on Facebook in Sri Lanka

"The growth of online hate speech in Sri Lanka does not guarantee another pogrom. It does however pose a range of other challenges to government and governance around social, ethnic, cultural and religious co-existence, diversity and, ultimately, to the very core of debates around how we see and organise ourselves post-war."