Learn, Engage, Act: Digital Tools to Prevent and Counter Hate Speech Online

Α EU project that helps young people tackle HSO, by learning to distinguish between HSO and freedom of speech and provide counter narratives


Developing a multi-lingual online Hate Speech Self- Assessment Tool (HS- SAT)

The HS-SAT will help participating organizations, teachers, students, become aware of whether they are (un)consciously using HS in their everyday life. It will contain a few (20-25) multiple-choice questions (MCQs) that the users will have to answer (with core questions for all users and additional questions for each group, i.e. for students (ages 14-19), teachers, journalists, social media/internet companies); min. 300 users per country. The tool will allow identifying the most frequent targets of HSO, typical expressions, frequency of reporting. MCQs will be consulted with school counsellors and experts on HSO to avoid violation of privacy rights and potential negative emotional impact on participants. For each user taking the SAT, a short report can be produced in the end. The test is anonymous, but data on gender and age will be collected. HS-SAT identifies their initial level of understanding and attitude to HSO. The results and analysis will serve as baseline information for identifying and measuring relevant changes in knowledge, skills, attitude and behavior of the target groups during project activities.

Preliminary thematic scope of the questions

  1. Freedom of speech,
  2. Online hate speech,
  3. Hate speech victims, perpetrators
  4. Ways to respond to and report HSO
  5. The impact of hate speech on people.

HS-SAT is not meant as a learning tool (i.e. it will not propose “proper” no-hate speech following the learners’ answers), but rather as a means to help users become conscious of their behaviour. Based on the HS- SAT, the consortium can process the answers and produce a taxonomy of anti-HSO competences. Information will be used to design also the training content (WP3) and the Hate Out! game in WP4. HS-SAT is sustainable because it will be possible, through a simple form, to add new MCQs or improve the existing ones to various audiences.

  • Definitions of “Hate speech” used for the self-assessment and all other materials are based on that of the Council of Europe and the Additional Protocol on Cybercrime.
  • Ethical and data management guidelines for the HS-SAT will be integrated in the protocol for taking the test and will cover aspects such as the recruitment of participants, underlining the voluntary and active nature of the activities, the importance of informed consent, and the safe-keeping of the anonymity of the participants and their personal data in any publication.
  • Gender-specific differences in the SAT responses and per target group (young people, educators, journalists) will be reflected in the reports (D2.1 and D2.2).

Project Description

The project LEAD-Online addresses the need to strengthen critical thinking and digital & media literacy skills in young people, as causally linked to the low levels of reporting of and the “normalization” of hate speech online (HSO). The project will empower youth, teachers, media and social media activists in 7 countries (AT, BG, CY, HR, IT, EL, RO) to become agents of change by 1) training them to recognize hateful discourses and underlying forms of intolerance prejudices and discrimination, using a rights-based approach; 2) providing them with innovative digital tools to classify, decode and counter HSO, and 3) opening up spaces for discussion of HSO, promoting attitudes and behaviour that respect human rights and values.

The project includes empirical research, co-creation of online tools, in-person and online training, and outreach activities. Target groups are young people aged 14-19, educators, journalists, social media activists, b/vloggers; civil society organizations (CSOs), Internet service providers. Through online self- assessment tools we will produce hate speech ontologies, which will be used to develop, test and evaluate an innovative interactive online game, with resources in 7 languages to identify and counter HSO. Partners will run a series of events (LEAD-Online Talks) and online creative tools to reinforce the awareness of the chilling effects of the normalization of hate speech in society.

Over 4000 young people and educators will participate in interactive learning formats on human rights- based activism against HSO. Through the online game over 3500 users will learn to denounce hate messages in an online environment. Students, youth leaders, journalists, and educators will become co- creators of proactive narratives against HSO. Over 1400 participants in more than 20 public LEAD-Online Talks will gain new awareness of the wide implications of HSO and will get access to international networks and resources for countering hate speech. More than 35,000 people across the partner countries and beyond will be reached through online communications and information about HSO.

The project is planned for 24 months; the work is organized in 5 WPs. It starts with a) wide-scale self-assessment in each country (M3-8), b) followed by an international training-of-trainers event, and follow-up national training events for transferring the learning methods (M9-15), c) awareness-raising and dissemination (M4-24). The work packages are interlinked: WP 2 (assessment & collection of data) is implemented in the first months of the project with results incorporated in the subsequent education formats (WP3); WP3 and WP4 (M7-17) mark key milestones (creation of online Hate Out! game); public awareness events, LEAD-Online Talks, online and offline, run through the project lifetime. WP5 steps upon the results and achievements of the previous WPs, and sets out a plan for reaching out to local audiences and multipliers, ending with an international event in Brussels (M23). Activities in WP3 and WP4 partially overlap, as feedback from trainings is used for the game design, through a process of co-creation with educators, media, IT and civil society experts.

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