Digital Civil Courage

Civil courage on the internet is just as important as in the analog world!

Here you will learn:

– what this is all about,
– why society and the internet need resistance against hate,
– how each and everyone of us can take action!

Please find the facilitator‘s guide for this 90-min workshop here.

Other versions of the workshop are 45 min and 25 min in length.

What would a hate-free internet look like?

Please start the audio file

Fake news asked Mala, glancing sideways at his friend with an incredulous look on his face . There's no such thing anymore. Fake news is so 2020th. You troll head, retorted Grado. By the 2020th, people had long since stopped falling for fake news. Sounds like your brain was on autopilot in history class. The two friends love to sit together in the grass, out in the sunshine and talk about times long ago, especially about the digital past. Mala often liked to say that he was going to call his first child fake news. He said that jokingly, of course, in the full knowledge that no child would ever get ahead with that name. In the same vein, he claimed he would name his second child, doxing. Now, he suddenly looked skyward and called out: La Luna, kick away the ghosts of cyberspace past and tell us about love. A floating yet insistent voice sounded filling the two friends with joy. Once upon a time, in an age long since forgotten, the world was full of hate and strife, people still made a distinction between digital life and analog life, even though the two had already become one by then. Bots battled each other constantly and algorithms decided it matters of life and death. One sunny, cloudless day, people woke up back then, they still needed to sleep every night and found that something ridiculous had occurred, the network had cleansed itself overnight. It was as if its cache of hate had been cleared at the snap of a finger. It was new and fresh. Suddenly, people could meet in cyberspace, share news, learn new things, and help make the world a better place. All people started helping each other and all began enjoying the vast reaches of cyberspace. Suddenly, everyone understood that the virtual world is a wonderful cosmos full of beautiful surprises and diversity. Grado rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers. That's enough, Mala. I can't take it anymore. Mala bowed over to him and pinched his cheek. Have you run out of memory, my little friend? No, answered Grado with a laugh and joyfully let himself fall backwards into the grass. The love, but doesn't need any more inspiration. That's as beautiful as this day is thought Mala and stared of dreamily into space.

What would a resistance-free internet look like?

Please start the audio file

We now bring you a special report for today, February 2013, 2031. Bots take over social media. For the first time ever, more bots than people are now active on social media, according to recent market reports, as of the last quarter the resulting damage for the global economy has exceeded one billion dollars caused by growing numbers of bad bots. In addition, reputable companies have been pulling out of social networks. We are very sorry to have had to take this cause of action, but we simply do not want to have anything to do with all the hate speech online, explained the CEO of one multinational corporation in an interview with our editorial staff. For security reasons, he requested that his name be withheld. Troll banned from the Internet for life. For the first time ever, a person has been banned from the Internet for life. The 45 year old man was punished for having spread more than one million fake news items over the past two years and thereby having exacerbated divisions in society, noted the judge as she explained her ruling. The man's lawyers said they would appeal the decision. People no longer trust the media. The Media Trust Index has fallen to a new all time low. Currently, 90 percent of all Europeans believe that 100 percent of all news items contain at least some fake news. This result continues a 30 year pattern of declining trust in the media. Net activists have long called for the establishment of a government agency that would combat fake news and hate speech in cyberspace. But no substantial headway has been made on the issue. Revival of vintage communication tool. More and more people are now relying on telephones again and thereby reviving a communication tool from a bygone era. Phone companies profits from telephony services keep growing and are now running into the billions, according to the company's latest annual reports. Password United and Antihacker organization respected throughout Europe finds that more and more people are again relying on plain, old fashioned phone calls. As to the reasons for the trend it notes that passwords quickly get hacked online, and that is impossible to reliably verify identities of online chat partners. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Returns Prize. The 65 year old British Nobel Peace Prize holder Edward Heysel has officially returned his prize. At his midday press conference in Stockholm, Heysel said his efforts to promote civil courage and combat hate speech in cyberspace had failed. In light of what he now sees online he feels unworthy of the prize, he added. Heysel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize seven years ago, and now the weather. Expect stormy weather. The wind is going to pick up today. By tomorrow, expect gale force gusts up to 750 kilometers.

Defending Democratic Values

Supporting a friend who is bullied on the internet because of her headscarf.
Exposing a picture on Facebook as fake.
Programming an app for reporting hate posts.

All of those are examples for civil courage on the internet. What do all of them have in common?

They go beyond pure helping behavior! Basic democratic values are defended courageously. Digitally just as in the analog world.

The Internet has some peculiarities:
Coverage and speed, anonymity, legislation, information overload.

Online hate and fakes are on the rise!

Hate speech and fake news are a problem for society as a whole.
According to a survey by HateAid, 50% of young adults in Europe are affected by hate on the Internet.
Over two-thirds of Europeans encounter fake news at least once a week (Source: Statista, Inc.).

Populism and the emphasis of the differences between groups fuel the discussions.

Intense hate speech is used as a strategy to silence dissidents.

Is hate speech legal?

There is a fine line separating harsh criticism from illegal hate speech and that line varies a lot between countries.

The video gives an overview of the main arguments regarding freedom of speech.

The internet is no legal vacuum

In some countries it is an offence to insult someone on the street. But what about on social media?

Fundamentally, acts that are illegal in the analog world are treated the same way when carried out online.

On an international level, there are a number of conventions that are relevant when it comes to online hate, such as the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights. There are also corresponding national laws. So it makes sense to gather evidence and report offences.

There are many reasons not to act …

Why should I deliberately step in the line of fire? I do not want to present myself as a target…

Possible consequences for people who fight back on the net:

Shitstorm: Drawing people‘s anger on oneself and becoming a target.
Blaming: Being defined as the offender and attacked
Silencing: Experiencing massive hate aiming to drive people of differing opinion out of social media
Doxing: Ones addresses and other contact details are published and one becomes a target in the analog world

Maybe it is better to stay out of this?

… all the more to take action!

Failure to oppose implies agreement!
It is important that hatred does not become the new normal.

Can haters be convinced? Most cannot.
But there are many undecided followers. For them as well as for the victims of hate it pays to become active. A lack of solidarity is as severe as the hate itself.

Overcoming the stunned state of shock and taking action: That is a great feeling! Those who get involved feel a sense of belonging and less helplessness.

But a word of caution: Hate has never conquered hate or solved social issues…

Everybody can take action!

  • Get involved in a constructive way!
  • Support victims – demonstrate solidarity!
  • Seek and accept help!
  • Strengthen supporters!
  • Do not allow yourself to be provoked.
  • Do not answer hate with hate!
  • Set limits and recover!
  • Be prepared – practice counter-speech!
  • Use fact checking – publish sources!
  • Often: write for the silent readers – not for the hater!
  • Report violations!

There are many great examples!

Facing facts: European program tackling hate crime and hate speech. It offers online courses for private citizens, activists, decision makers and many more.

Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD): global ‘think and do’ tank to understand and create innovative responses to polarization, hate and extremism. Besides research and grassroot networks they also developed an educational program.

Common Sense Education: Supports parents and teachers with everything they need to empower the next generation of digital citizens.

Reporters‘ Lab: Center for journalism research. On the website they offer an overview of fact-checking initiatives worldwide.

#IAmHere: Founded in Sweden by journalist Mina Dennert. Today, there are 14 different Facebook groups practicing counter-speech in their respective languages.

International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH): Combats discrimination on the Internet e.g. by supporting groups and institutions who want to set up a complaints bureau.

What do you plan to do differently, starting tomorrow?

Many initiatives take small steps but still have great impact! Each and everyone of us can make a difference.

Let us learn more about the measures that help and how to take action against hateful and unqualified comments…

Statistics ping-pong and alternative facts

“This just needs to be said!” – Taboo Breaker

1001 different topic

“There is no hope!” – Scare Tactics

Digital Civil Courage: take part!

Our workshop has come to an end!

We have learned a lot about online hate and what we can do against it.

And we do not have time to waste: hate destroys many advantages that social media offers.

Resistence against hate is a way to shape our society in accordance with democratic rules.

Take part!