By APCNewsPublished on
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The United Nations has declared 18 June to be the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, and APC will organise an online campaign to mark the first such day this year.
There has been a sharp increase in hate speech across the world in recent years, especially in online spaces, which has been further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there is no globally accepted definition of hate speech, it is usually understood as any kind of expression that promotes hatred, discrimination or violence against a person or a group on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, race, caste, gender or other identity factor.
Hate speech has serious consequences for those targeted, especially vulnerable communities, often resulting in discrimination, hostility and violence. It dehumanises and “others” persons or groups of people, often consigning them to dangerous stereotypes that are used to justify discrimination and violence against them.
In many countries, the situation has worsened recently with social media being used to mobilise hatred by powerful, well-resourced and coordinated groups. Their targets are often individuals and communities promoting diverse ideologies or dissenting from mainstream opinion, especially those belonging to religious, ethnic and gender minorities.
States and social media companies have a responsibility to ensure that citizens and users respectively are protected from hate speech and are able to exercise their own rights to free speech and expression, including sexual expression. However, the response from both has been inadequate, especially in the global South. In fact, hate speech laws in many countries are used to target survivors rather than perpetrators of hate speech, and thus used as a way to shut down legitimate expressions.
As part of its Challenge project, APC has been working with communities of activists, artists, students, lawyers, journalists and others who have been pushing back by building an understanding of the impacts of online hate speech; engaging in counter-speech and art that is diverse, inclusive and speaks truth to power; supporting those targeted by providing them necessary resources; building capacities of people to challenge hate speech online and in their communities; and holding states and social media companies accountable. This work is complemented by APC's Our Voices, Our Futures project, which aims to ensure the visibility and participation of structurally silenced communities in public life; the ability of these communities to express themselves freely and safely is a key feature of the project's work.
A campaign to #challengehateonline
Through the #challengehateonline campaign around 18 June, APC aims to spark discussions on the impacts and consequences of online hate speech on vulnerable communities as well as highlight stories of resistance from across the global South. It will also initiate conversations on formulating effective counter-narratives and responses to online hate speech, the role that states and social media companies play in its spread and the steps they must take to prevent its further proliferation.
The two-day online campaign will take place on 17 and 18 June 2022, in collaboration with APC’s members and partners, across our social media channels.
Day 1, 17 June 2022: Understanding online hate speech and its impact. We will share research, stories and experiences from our community.
Day 2, 18 June 2022: How to combat and counter hate speech. We will share effective responses and potential solutions, including the need for accountability of states and social media platforms.
Social media kit
To make it easier to follow, we've put together a social media kit with background on the campaign, resources and ready-to-share messages that we encourage you to use, adjust and translate into your local language.