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.
Earlier this week, Twitter announced a new rule against language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion. This change is a step in the right direction, but in order to truly mitigate offline harms, the company must define dehumanizing speech by its likely effect on others in addition to the literal content of the speech.
A report shows that 78% of Americans believe aggressive language can make violence more likely. The Guardian asked Susan Benesch how we can respond to Dangerous Speech.