Project Description

Recently, the continuous growth of Internet as a mean of communication, along with the anonymity that it provides, has enabled the proliferation of hate-based activities in cyberspace, such as harassment and expressions of hate, which are now located beyond the realms of traditional Law Enforcement methods and Law prosecution. Therefore, it is needed for other cyber-entities, such as individual users or some web providers, to fight against this type of offence and this is what our project wants to do.

 

Web pages and forums are sometimes moderated, and where moderators are in place, they are responsible for confirming the proper functioning and adequate conformity to the rules of each web page and forum. There are web sites, social networks, and forums that have their own teams that review and evaluate reports on hate speech. One of the many practical problems in pursuing online hate speech incidents is that the actual authors can rarely be held accountable since the identity of users on web pages, blogs and forums is hard to investigate and determine.

 

Following the EU debate, and in line with the conclusions of the Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights of 2015, what is needed is to develop dialogue at EU level with IT companies and professionals and actors of the sectors on how to address hate speech online more efficiently. Developing counter-narratives and fostering media literacy is therefore of crucial importance as a means to contribute to inclusive and tolerant societies.

 

WORDS ARE STONES wants to step up to prosecute instances of online hate speech and cooperating with IT companies and the media to combat manifestly illegal hate speech and promote counter-narratives emanating from civil society by:

  • Organising activities able to support civil society in developing counter-narratives online.
  • Organising activities able to support media literacy through training and data dissemination and sensitise the media to promote diversity and tolerance.

The general objective of the project is to combat racism and discrimination in their online expression of hate speech by equipping young social media strategists/managers, bloggers, online activitists, youtubers…and young people in general with the competences necessary to recognize and act against such human rights violations.

 

Central to the project’s philosophy is the idea that online space is public space – human rights apply there as much in the rest of society. This objective, being the project implemented in Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Spain, Hungary, Czech Rep, Lithuania will impact in countries experiencing first-hand situation of hate speech due to their population composition and where the political approach and actions toward (online) hate speech are different. So, the achievement of this objective will contribute to the creation of a EU network in order to foster the international cooperation in the field and to promote a continuous exchange of best practices.

 

In particular, project activities will be:

  • The organisation of a train the trainers course in Italy for young social media strategists/managers, bloggers, online activities, youtubers and its replication in each participating country
  • The organization of a “Youth media campaign” with on/off line local activities. Materials produced will serve as basis for the “WORDS ARE STONES hate speech award”, a European celebration moment through which it is possible to report and vote the best cases of hate speech management and the best conduct of internet users for a more inclusive internet.

 

 The project direct target groups will be:

  • Young bloggers, social media activists, community managers, moderators, aged 18-30, with proven capacity to mobilise young people online. We have identified this target group because, considering the actual situation, one possible and emerging result is the creation of a vicious cycle in which audiences convene around hateful content, converse in a self-selected group, and form new ideas or support their original biases aided by the hateful beliefs of others. However, a virtuous cycle is also possible. New media spaces can act to neutralize the negative impacts of hate speech and we want to give them the instruments to do this.
  • Young people, aged 14-25. We have identified them as target group because young people are now ‘Web 2.0’ generation: those who use the internet are mostly familiar with its different aspects and fully able to make use of them. They are more likely to recognise the type of site which will attract their peers, the type of issues which concern their peers, and may be able to speak from first hand experience about the type of hate speech or hate sites commonly encountered by people of their generation. Young people are experts in young people. In this respect, they have an advantage over ‘professional’ educators or experts on cyberhate. But despite familiarity with using the internet, a very small proportion of young people – and of the population as a whole ‐ are fully aware of the technologies behind the techniques they use everyday.

 

Young bloggers, social media activists, community managers and moderators from all over the world might benefit from a training such as our project wants to organise and young people as well can benefit from the knowledge that the online and off line activities of the campaign will generate but we want to start with representatives of countries suffering first-hand problems of (online) hate speech due to their actual political situation and population.