Op ed: To keep social media from inciting violence, focus on responses to posts more than the posts themselves

Judging posts exclusively by their content is like studying cigarettes to understand their toxicity. It’s one useful form of data, but to understand what smoking can do to people’s lungs, study the lungs, not just the smoke.

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

Trump in the Rearview Mirror: How to Better Regulate Violence-Inciting Content Online

It was a watershed when Donald Trump lost his social media megaphone on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms right after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, since none of these companies had ever dumped a head of state. But this moment also represents a failure: The companies barred him for inciting violence only after he had done it successfully. They identified incitement to violence in the rearview mirror, by waiting for violence to happen.

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.

Blog + News

Liz Cheney spoke out against lies and dangerous speech – and got punished for it

U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) spoke out against dangerous speech, violence, and lies – and was punished by her colleagues as a result.

Christchurch Call Advisory Network Statement on Two Year Anniversary

On the second anniversary of the Christchurch Call to Action, the members of the Christchurch Call Advisory Network recommit to the initiative, while calling for greater engagement with civil society from governments and companies