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.
In June, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University hosted a workshop to discuss how market dynamics, behavioral drivers, laws, and technology contribute to the spread of harmful speech online and inform measures to constrain it. Dangerous Speech Project director Susan Benesch spoke at the workshop, arguing that there should be third-party auditing of platforms' use of algorithms for content removal.
Influential leaders should not speak dangerously, of course – and it can be equally important for them to denounce the...
In Charlottesville, Americans watched barriers to Dangerous Speech go down in broad daylight, in the middle of a city, as extremists waved swastikas and chanted hateful slogans. Some people are taking matters into their own hands, reaching out to masses of others to identify and punish marchers in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally, but online shaming often goes too far, reaching into a person’s offline life to inflict punishment