Online hate speech is of increasing concern to policy makers. More and more, young people experience the internet – and in particular social media – to be a hostile space. This problem is often addressed through regulation, notice and take-down procedures and user reporting, while trying to hold online companies accountable.
Yet, these approaches only scrape the surface of the broader culture of hate online, and they do not address the fundamental causes. To be truly effective, they need to be complemented with more proactive awareness and education efforts, targeted in particular at younger internet users.
That is where the SELMA approach comes into play: to properly address hate speech, education solutions should provide young people with a better understanding of the phenomenon, and with the tools and strategies to act and make a difference. The SELMA project has built a solid evidence base through a comprehensive research programme – the main findings are available in the research report "Hacking Online Hate: Building an Evidence Base for Educators".
Based on this, the SELMA partners have developed the SELMA Toolkit, a set of 100 free, easy-to-access and customisable resources and activities for anyone willing to provide a response to online hate speech in dialogue young people aged 11-16. Building on social and emotional learning (SEL), media literacy and citizenship education, it aims to prime young people for a culture of mutual respect and open debate, based on a contextual understanding of what is at stake.
From Monday, 7 October to Friday, 11 October 2019, the SELMA project is organising a variety of activities to look back and raise awareness of online hate speech and the role of education in tackling this issue. Today, policy makers, industry representatives, civil society organisations, teachers and young people will discuss this further at the "Drive change, hack online hate" conference in Brussels – you can follow it on social media via the European Schoolnet Twitter account and the hashtag #HackHateConf.Back