I say it frequently: our tools have immense power — not just good, not just bad, but both, and that certainly pertains to our digital platforms. They comprise some of the largest communities on the planet. So many wonderful connections have been made, so many heroic efforts have been launched. And, unfortunately, these very same tools have become the breeding ground of hate speech and cyber bullying. The hate may be sent through the ether but the impacts are all too real in our non-virtual world.
Understanding just how big of an issue this online form of harassment is, Facebook announced a new initiative to combat extremism and hate speech on the internet. The Online Civil Courage Initiative aims to fight hate speech by better understanding it and helping internet users respond to the comments.
In launching OCCI, Facebook partnered with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence; the Institute for Strategic Dialogue; and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation to, as OCCI said in its inaugural Facebook post, “combine forces across politics, civil society and academia.”
It’s an interesting effort to culturally regulate words that harm. Sure there’s always been a dilemma, a tension, between a person’s freedom of expression and the public’s need for safeness. But our digital platforms operate beyond any one political jurisdiction, like so many of our efforts in our globalized world, and thus it would be folly to think we can simply make these behaviors illegal and outsource the policing to someone else. No friends, we’re going to have to create the attitudes, the courage and the action to talk these hateful activities back into the corner. (more…)