Council of Europe youth campaign for human rights online
The No Hate Speech Movement Campaign was initiated and led by the Council of Europe, but mainly involves national campaigns in its member states.
The campaign was officially launched on March 22, 2013 and was scheduled to run until 2015. Due to the huge positive response and activity of thousands of young people and youth organizations, however, the campaign was extended until 2017, and to this day dozens of thematic initiatives continue, keeping the energy accumulated over several years.
The main coordinator of No Hate Speech Movement for Bulgaria was initially the National Center for European Youth Programmes and Initiatives–until its closure on July 31, 2014; its successor in the coordinating activity from August 1, 2014 was the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The Council of Europe’s campaign against hate speech online was designed to raise awareness of the problem, to change our attitude and to mobilize young people against it in the name of a better and more constructive world with an equal place for all of us.
The idea of the campaign is not to restrict freedom of expression online, nor to force everyone to be polite to each other under duress. It targets online hate speech in all its forms, including those that most affect young people, such as cyber fraud and cyber hatred. The campaign focuses on human rights education, youth participation and media literacy. Its aim is to limit hate speech and prevent racism and discrimination in all their various online forms.
No Hate Speech Movement is part of the Council of Europ’s broader efforts to promote the protection of human rights online, as hate speech is one of the main threats to democracy and human rights. The heart of the movement is human rights, but it does not extend only to the application of legal mechanisms to combat cyber hatred—nor only to the “erasure of hatred” wherever and whenever it occurs. The campaign, continuing in different forms up to date, promotes respect for freedom of speech and aims to develop alternative responses to hate speech. This includes prevention, education, awareness-raising and the development of consumer self-regulation, as well as the promotion of victim support.
No Hate Speech Movement aims to uphold human rights online and make the Internet a safer place for everyone.
- Campaign goals:
- Raising awareness of hate speech online and the risks it poses to democracy and individual young people;
- Promoting media and internet literacy;
- Helping young people stand up for human rights online and offline;
- Reducing the level of tolerance for hate speech online;
- Marking hate speech online and developing tools to combat it;
- Supporting and demonstrating solidarity with people and groups who are attacked with hate speech;
- Advocating for consensus in and between European policy instruments against hate speech;
- Developing youth participation and citizenship online by involving young people in online governance processes.
The campaign’s official website was its main platform, open to the general public and containing testimonials, including personal videos and photos. At present, all the materials collected within No Hate Speech Movement are integrated in an archive on the Council of Europe website.
The Hate Speech Watch interactive section was developed on the campaign website as a tool powered by live stories and signals from young people about examples of hate speech online. A team of moderators monitored this database, which was collected on the principle of collective interaction, in order to ensure that technical problems were dealt with and to set the topics for discussion according to the interests of the online audience. This tool also offered an opportunity to discuss different approaches and solutions in different situations, as well as to organize concrete actions against hate speech.
In a separate section of the platform—The Campaign in Action, activists and campaign partners from different countries provided information about their activities and initiatives carried out within the movement. Infinite Opportunities Association also contributed by presenting its initiative Toler@nce Caravan, a short-term group project of 14 volunteers from 7 countries who toured part of the cities in southern Bulgaria in May 2014, presenting the campaign to young people from Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Sliven, Burgas, Pazardzhik and Sofia. At the same time, our activists from Infinite Opportunities regularly organized street actions in Sofia and invited passers-by to take pictures with the Heart—symbol of the campaign, leaving a positive message of tolerance in communication.
For its part, the Join the Discussion forum provided an opportunity for anyone to engage in discussion of hate speech and many other campaign issues.
- Online training tools:
- BOOKMARKS—a manual for combating hate speech online through human rights education. The guide is for anyone who wants to get involved in the cause and spirit of the campaign, regardless of its actual end in 2017. In it, you can find the necessary information about the campaign and its media tools, as well as specific practical and methodological tips for organizing online campaigns.
- Hate speech training module, presenting in detail and nuances what hate speech is and how it can be identified online.
- Guide for school campaigns—everything from A to Z for their organization, implementation and promotion by students and teachers in high school. It describes methods for discussing hate speech online with students, ways to participate in a European high school competition on hate speech problems online or cyber fraud, for presenting online campaign tools in class, and more.
- Good practices initiated within the campaign or as ongoing actions:
What can young people do when confronted with hate speech?
The opportunities to join the campaign in subsequent initiatives and actions, including after its actual end, are actually much more than those listed above. Here are some of these good practices that can inspire you at the same time—why not!—develop your own campaign:
- Joining the movement on social networks;
- Subscribing to the newsletter, publishing photos and videos and contacting others in the campaign forum;
- Monitoring of hate speech online and reporting with examples on the online campaign platform;
- Monitoring the European Action Days and organizing your own initiative or action;
- Sharing personal thematic activities in the field of combating hate speech online and getting acquainted with foreign ones;
- Taking action online and offline to promote the protection of human rights for all and an active personal example in the fight against hate speech!
BOOKMARKS. A Manual for Combating Hate Speech Online through Human Rights Education. 2016. (Revised edition, with the inclusion of the Guide to Human Rights for Internet Users). Council of Europe. Authors: Keen, E Georgescu, M. URL: https://rm.coe.int/090000168065dac7