Hacking online hate speech with the SELMA project

Image: SELMA

Online hate speech is a growing problem. According to a recent study published by the SELMA (Social and Emotional Learning for Mutual Awareness) project, online hate has become an inevitable part of young people´s everyday media experience. Most young people have a basic notion of concepts such as freedom of speech or incitement to hatred, and seem to grasp some of the consequences that online hate speech may have. Nevertheless, as well as regulation and adequate monitoring and reporting, awareness-raising and education are still very much needed.

SELMA is a two-year project co-funded by the European Commission which aims to tackle the problem of online hate speech by promoting mutual awareness, tolerance and respect. SELMA partners believe that children can – and should – be empowered to become agents of change in their offline and online communities.

The SELMA Toolkit, which will be the main output of the SELMA project, will enable educators and professionals to work on online hate speech with 11- to 16-year-old teenagers following this approach.

The Toolkit’s modules explore issues of online hate through three different lenses: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Media Literacy, and Citizenship. Teachers will be able to navigate through 100 activities, while being able to choose the materials that best suit their needs. The materials address a wide range of thematic questions such as:

  • What is online hate speech?
  • What is my role and what can I do?
  • How can we effect change in our community?
  • How can we work with online stakeholders to change the world?

Embedded within the Citizenship element is a “Call to action” to ultimately effect change. It starts with the question “So what?” Because it is not enough just to study and understand the issue. We, as an education community and as a society, need to collaborate with young people to do something about it.

The Toolkit is currently under development but will available on www.hackinghate.eu this spring.