The Insidious Creep Of Violent Rhetoric

Social media companies have spent too much time trying to divine the intent behind messages posted by influential people, when what really matters for preventing violence is how content is understood by its audience – especially people who might commit or condone violence. Content moderation staff should focus on real-world potential impacts and consequences, not unknowable states of mind or hypothetical meanings.

We study dangerous speech and ways to counteract it.

Dangerous Speech: A Practical Guide

People don’t commit violence against other groups - or even condone it - spontaneously. First they must be taught to see other people as pests, vermin, aliens, or threats. Malicious leaders often use the same types of rhetoric to do this, in myriad cultures, languages, countries, and historical periods. We call this Dangerous Speech. Violence might be prevented by making it less abundant or less convincing. We work to find the best ways to do this – while protecting freedom of expression.

Resources

The Anti-Hate Brigade: How a Group of Thousands Responds Collectively to Online Vitriol

#jagärhär – "I am here" – is a Sweden-based group of thousands of volunteers working collectively to counter online hatred. This is first qualitative study of the group – how it works, why people join and stay engaged, and how its members try to shift thinking and discourse norms among the general public.

Prevent Violence, Strengthen Democracy: Electoral Codes of Conduct for the United States

The 2020 U.S. election was like nothing we'd seen before for many reasons, including disinformation, dangerous speech, and unprecedented fears of election-related violence. Now it's time to start thinking about the future.

Blog + News

Words Matter, but Context Matters More: Dangerous Speech and the Capitol Riots

Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to defend him against charges of inciting the Capitol riot by arguing that many Democrats have used similar language, including the word "fight". But it’s not the same.

A Dangerous Symbolic Victory

As a matter of symbolism, the January 6th attack dealt an immeasurable blow to democracy, one that will galvanize violent white supremacists for generations to come.