hate speech

Image via RNS

Amid revelations that extremist groups have exploited social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to influence voters and steer readers toward fake-news, the nation’s premier anti-Semitism watchdog is training its eye on the tech world to combat hate speech online.

The Anti-Defamation League will hold a summit in San Francisco on Nov. 13 featuring Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, along with executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit to discuss ways of fighting the growing menace of cyber hate.

A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Facebook initially responded to the ProPublica report by removing the topics in question from its ad system. But other news reports, including from Slate, then discovered that hateful topics were more widespread in the ad system's targeting capabilities.

Nate Hanson 5-30-2017

Image via RNS/REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

A man facing murder charges, after he allegedly fatally stabbed two people and injured another on a Portland light-rail train, has a history of run-ins with law enforcement, and is a self-proclaimed white supremacist, authorities said.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation in the second degree, and felony possession of a restricted weapon, stemming from the May 26 attack. Christian makes his first court appearance on May 30.

Joe Kay 3-03-2017

Love recognizes that everyone is an equally beloved child of God and must be treated as such by our words and actions. Love values everyone’s dignity and worth as equal to my own. By contrast, hate rejects another person’s equal value and worth. It sees those who are different from me as less than me in some ways. It creates the conditions for people to be abused and mistreated.

Dhanya Addanki 2-16-2017

Cherian George: "One of the bitter ironies is that the extreme right the world around, although they may detest each other, are remarkably similar in the way they operate and in their world views. They believe in a certain purity of identity. They often use similar tactics."

Katie M. Logan 2-15-2017

Image via RNS/Marvel Comics

During the first few weeks of the Trump administration, we’ve seen increased pressure on Muslim and immigrant communities in the United States.

In the face of these threats, which Marvel superhero might be best equipped to defend the people, ideals, and institutions under attack? Some comic fans and critics are pointing to Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel.

Image via a katz/Shutterstock.com

A report released on Oct. 19 by the Anti-Defamation League does not directly indict Trump for this upswing in anti-Semitism. But it explicitly connects some of his supporters to the hate speech.

“The spike in hate we’ve seen online this election season is extremely troubling and unlike anything we have seen in modern politics,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Hoping to make the world safer, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has published a guidebook on countering dangerous speech, authored by a young American who helped quell intertribal conflict in Kenya during its 2013 elections.

Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech , doesn’t reveal exactly how to quell incendiary speech. The nature and context of speech that can lead to violence vary too widely across the globe for any particular prescription to make sense.

The words "No Jews" with a swastika spray-painted on a sidewalk in Pico-Robertson, Calif. Image via Anti-Defamation League / RNS

Violent anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. rose 50 percent last year. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were a total of 56 against Jewish victims.

“And we know that for every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, which produced the study and calls the trend “very concerning.”

Image via REUTERS/Hannah McKay/RNS

Swastikas found in a children’s playground in London are the latest sign of anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe.

The hand-drawn swastikas appeared on four consecutive days, June 14-17, in a park in the Stamford Hill neighborhood, The Guardian newspaper reported June 20. A home for British Jewish veterans is nearby.

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A Muslim civil rights organization says that a record number of groups are spreading hatred of Muslims and have raised more than $200 million in funding since 2008.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, issued its findings in a report conducted with the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley, released June 20.

Jim Wallis 4-28-2016
William Perugini / Shutterstock

William Perugini / Shutterstock

WHAT ISIS AND other terror groups who share their views want is precisely to terrorize us. They want to turn our fear of them into fear of everyone who looks like them, and everyone who follows the religion they are trying to hijack. They want us to suspect, fear, and hate the 1.6 billion people of the world who practice Islam—including millions of Muslim Americans. They want to provoke us to anger, and they hope that in our anger and pain we will overreact.

Right now, unfortunately, they are succeeding with too many of our fellow Christians, and even with some of the candidates for our highest political offices.

When ISIS terrorists succeed in provoking Islamophobic responses, they come closer to their goal of dividing the world into two categories—Muslims and non-Muslims—which also brings them closer to their goal of claiming the mantle of being the only “true defenders” of Islam. Islamophobia thus directly helps the terrorists recruit more young Muslims to their cause and makes it harder for other Muslims to work against them.

Here are some ways that we can deny the terrorists their victory:

FIRST, WE MUST focus on life and the terrible human suffering that these attacks are causing all over the world. When you add up all of those killed, maimed, wounded, and traumatized—and all their family members, friends, fellow congregants, and co-workers—the number of human beings impacted by terrorist violence is almost countless. We must also include the impact on all of our children whose fears these attacks kindle, and the fears we in turn feel for them.

Franklin Graham. Image via Paul Sherar/RNS

The Rev. Franklin Graham picks up a toy stuffed animal, tattered by time and a child’s love, from a shelf in his office where his big game hunting trophies loom. It’s a little black sheep with a music box in its belly, a gift from his mother when he was a tot. When the son of Billy Graham winds a little key it plays, “Jesus loves me.” Franklin Graham, a hellfire evangelist and a social conservative force, is still a “black sheep” at 63.

John Bacon 1-19-2016

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Britain’s Parliament held a boisterous debate Jan. 18 on a proposal to ban Donald Trump from the country in a rebuke of his call to block Muslims from entering the United States. The topic drew plenty of support from the British lawmakers, who don’t actually have the power ban anyone. The debate did allow members of Parliament to vent their frustrations about Trump’s comments.

Matt Worthington 12-21-2015

Why and how did Greg’s post resonate with so many people on the meme’s second time around the Internet? Why did it take so much darkness before something profoundly positive happened? I think I come back to two powerful resources available to us as a church, if we have the courage to embrace it.

Shane Claiborne 6-29-2015
confederateflagblock

Image via /shutterstock.com

I own a Confederate flag. Growing up, the flag meant little more to me than school spirit, pep rallies, and Southern pride … until I left East Tennessee. I’ll never forget the moment things began to change. I moved into my college dorm room and established my new home at Eastern University in Philadelphia. I carefully set up my desk, put my posters on the wall, and displayed my high school yearbook — with a Confederate flag on the cover — proudly on my bookshelf.

Rendering of Facebook 'like' symbols with flowers and love. Illustration courtes

Rendering of Facebook 'like' symbols with flowers and love. Illustration courtesy Twin Design/shutterstock.com

Sometimes a smiley-face emoticon just won’t do the trick.

In Myanmar, the newest set of Facebook stickers features a flower in an animated character’s mouth. The 24 stickers carry a deeper message than the usual “Like” thumbs-up Facebook icon: “End hate speech with flower speech.”

The stickers are the latest attempt to combat the spread of “dangerous speech” online and are sponsored by Panzagar, a coalition of civil society activists. The group’s name, which means “flower speech,” was organized as a response to the pervasiveness of anti-Muslim invective online and in public space.

At the same time and with less fanfare, Facebook is rolling out a new process for users to report online abuse in Myanmar. Since November 21, Facebook users in the country have new options available to report disturbing posts. The new process is aimed at more quickly addressing complaints and removing offensive posts in the Myanmar language.

This type of “market-specific reporting mechanism” already exists in some regions, including North Africa. Facebook’s grievance process was originally developed in the U.S. in response to teen cyberbullying.

Matt Davis, 33, from Buxton, England. Photo via Alison Baskerville / RNS.

Two years ago, “Max” was a devout Catholic who loved his faith so much he would sometimes cry as he swallowed the Communion wafer.

Then came the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where 20 schoolchildren and six adults were murdered by a troubled gunman. At that moment, a bell went off in his head, he said, ringing “there is no God, there is no God.”

Now, Max goes by his online handle “Atheist Max.” A 50-something professional artist from the Northeast, some days he now spends two or more hours online trying to argue people out of their religious beliefs in the comments section of Religion News Service.

Max left more than 3,600 comments in the past 12 months, making him RNS’ top commenter. Many of his remarks can be interpreted as angry, hostile, and provocative, casting him in some minds as an Internet “troll” — a purposely disruptive online activist who delights in creating comment chaos.

He’s written “Jesus is despicable” or its equivalent more than once — red meat to some readers who come back at him with fervor. Other users have called him “mean-spirited” or “angry.”

 

Linda Sarsour protests during a rally in Ferguson, Mo. Photo via Linda Sarsour/RNS

ISIS terrorist rampages, waves of anti-Muslim hate speech and fear-mongering Islamophobia are inspiring an outburst of online activism in the form of Twitter hashtags.

The question is: Does it work, especially over the long term?

An army of “clicktivists” — a mix of earnest advocates and pointed satirists — has entered the fray armed with 140-character positive, peaceful or humorous counter-messages.

Using names such as #TakeOnHate, #IStandUpBecause, and #NotInMyName, the pushback approach promotes the complexity, diversity and positive contributions of Islam and Muslims. Others, such as #MuslimApologies, offer sarcasm in service of the same message.

Yet the hashtags are often immediately co-opted by trolls spewing an opposite message. And some experts question whether clicktivist campaigns have lasting worth.

Linda Sarsour has no doubt they do. She’s a Brooklyn-based Palestinian activist in the streets and on social media and a co-creator of #TakeOnHate. The hashtag is accompanied by a resource website, launched in March by the National Network for Arab American Communities.

“The insidious thing about anti-Arab hate speech is that it seems to be acceptable, where the ‘N-word’ or anti-Semitic remarks are not taken with the same degree of outrage,” said Sarsour, who was chased down the street in September by a man who was later arrested for threatening to behead her

Omar Sacirbey 5-06-2014

The word “hate” formed with computer keyboard keys. Photo courtesy Jaromir Urbanek via Shutterstock

Anti-Muslim hate speech on the Internet is commonplace and can motivate some people to commit acts of violence against Muslims, according to a report released Tuesday by Muslim Advocates, a legal and advocacy group in San Francisco.

“When you have threatening comments online and they go unchecked, people start thinking it’s acceptable,” said Madihha Ahussain, an attorney and the report’s lead author. “And it doesn’t take long to figure out that what becomes acceptable online becomes acceptable in the real world.”

The report contains examples of hate speech and how it can lead to violence, as well as how victims of online hate speech can report it and counter it. The report aims to help educate parents, students, youth, community leaders, Internet companies, and policymakers on how to counter online hate speech.

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