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Unboxing Hate Speech

European Impulses for Respect and Solidarity on the Web

Digital Conference – 18 February 2021

The workspaces are designed for a specialist audience and access is restricted. Participation is by prior invitation only.

Everyone else is cordially invited to take part in the open workspace via live stream.

The workspaces will be held in English (with the exception of workspace 1) and will offer a forum for experts from across Europe to share ideas and draw up recommendations for political action.

Workspace 1: Hate speech in political communication

With simultaneous interpretation German-English/English-German.

Political negotiation processes depend on the exchange of arguments and on fair competition where the best ideas win. This is essential in order for people living in a democracy to be able to form opinions and make an informed decision about how to use their vote. This competition between ideas requires a shared foundation of values and rules – we must be open to hearing different opinions, show respect, treat one another fairly and, not least, accept scientific findings and facts. The political debate around elections in various parts of the world has shown that this foundation is not as stable as it once was. Defamation, slander and verbal abuse of politicians are gaining ground online alongside the spread of disinformation and conspiracy theories. Hate speech and fake news are coming to threaten the democratic process as a whole.

With:

Karamba Diaby, Member of the German Bundestag, Germany

Carl Miller, Research Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, Demos, United Kingdom

Moderation: Sina Laubenstein, Project Lead with the No Hate Speech Movement, New German Media Professionals (NDM)

Workspace 2: Hate speech as youth (anti)culture?

When it comes to hate speech, young people are a group that requires particular attention. Hatred and hate-mongering on the internet reach them at a particularly critical stage in their development and their search for identity. Children and young people are still learning how to interact with personal data, with the media and with criticism and manipulation of it. To ensure they can grow into democratic, responsible citizens, they need to be educated about the media. This includes teaching them how to assess sources and responsibly handle their own data. Young people in particular must be made aware of the importance of fair and respectful interactions with others and of safeguarding human rights, and must be empowered to show civic courage online. This is a core responsibility of political education both in schools and beyond, as well as of youth initiatives and associations.

With:

Emilija Gagrčin, member of the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth and the European Federation for Intercultural Learning

Nika Bakhsoliani, Human Rights Education Youth Network

Moderation: Stefanie Fächner, State Media Authority of Rhineland-Palatinate

Workspace 3: Hate speech and local involvement

Local democracy is sustained by individuals who dedicate their time and unpaid work to help shape their immediate environment – whether in municipal politics, in associations or in neighbourhood volunteer work. This dedication creates social cohesion, the foundation on which our communities are built. However, these people who work so hard for the good of society are increasingly being targeted by hatred, verbal attacks and even bodily assault and other acts of violence. This threat strikes at the very heart of democracy, reliant as it is on the dedication of ordinary people and on a pluralistic representation of interests at every level.

With:

Tjark Bartels, district chief executive a.D., district Hameln-Pyrmont

Péter Niedermüller, Mayor of Erzsébetváros district in Budapest, Hungary

Moderation: Anne Haller, head of the political education centre KommunalAkademie NRW, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

Workspace 4: Hate speech against marginalised groups

Xenophobia and racism used to be encountered primarily on the street or in pubs and other meeting places. A lot has changed in recent years. Discriminatory speech and hateful rhetoric against marginalised groups have gradually shifted to the internet. Xenophobia, racism and antisemitism are increasingly being expressed online, with stereotyping and scapegoating of marginalised groups. Society is becoming increasingly polarised by a verbal culture war. This is turning the internet into an echo chamber and amplifier for the denigration of marginalised groups; in the worst cases, it paves the way for physical violence.

With:

Tímea Junghaus, Director of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC)

Juliana Santos Wahlgren, Senior Advocacy Officer, European Network Against Racism

Moderation: Gilda Sahebi, project leader with the No Hate Speech Movement, New German Media Professionals (NDM)

Workspace 5: Antifeminist hate speech online

Hate speech and antifeminist content are widespread on the internet. Feminists and people who campaign for gender equality are threatened and insulted – regardless of the topics they are discussing. Antifeminist hate speech aims to force them out of the public arena and public discourse and to limit or remove their ability to participate in society. Antifeminist attitudes are reinforced through online communication, and groups form on the internet which perpetrate organised attacks against people who express feminist views. Online threats are not only psychologically damaging but also pave the way for physical attacks.

With:

Simone Rafael, Amadeu Antonio Foundation

Svetlana Zakharova, feminist and board member at the organisation Russian LGBT Network

Moderation: Julia Bläsius, gender politics expert, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

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