Young People Combating Hate Speech Online is a project being run by the Council of Europe’s youth sector between 2012 and 2014. It aims to combat racism and discrimination, as expressed online as hate speech, by mobilizing young people and youth organisations to recognise and act against such human rights violations. The project is a tribute to youth participation and co-management. It was initiated by the youth representatives in the Joint Council on Youth, the committee which brings together youth leaders belonging of the Advisory Council on Youth and the governmental youth representatives of the European Steering Committee on Youth. The project is therefore being carried out by young people with the support of governmental youth institutions.
A campaign for human rights online
The campaign is not designed to limit freedom of expression online. Neither is it about everyone being nice to each other online. It is against hate speech online in all its forms, including those that most affect young people, such as cyber-bullying and cyber-hate. The campaign focuses on human rights education, youth participation and media literacy.
A Multi-Faceted Campaign
The goals of the campaign are:
- To raise awareness about hate speech online and the risks it poses for democracy and individual young people.
- To promote media and Internet literacy.
- To support young people in standing up for human rights, online and offline.
- To reduce the levels of acceptance of online hate speech.
- To mobilise, train and create a network of online youth activists to defend human rights.
- To map hate speech online and develop tools to combat it.
- To support and show solidarity to people and groups targeted by hate speech online.
- To advocate the development of and consensus on European policy instruments combating hate speech.
- To develop youth participation and citizenship online.
Although based online, the campaign will also have important offline elements and activities like training courses, seminars, conferences, youth events, festivals and flashmobs. Local and linguistic differences are very important; so the online campaign has been designed to allow for national, cultural and linguistic diversity. All aspects of hate speech should be considered when analysing the problem and taking action so that motivation, content, tone, context, targets, and the potential implications of hate speech are taken into account. The campaign will highlight the importance of involving school communities as well as non-formal education and youth work.
The campaign’s main target groups are the public at large and online activists. “Victims” and “Haters” will also be considered through specific measures and through the wider project.
|Targetgroups||Personal and interpersonal sphere||Civil society||Broader social context||Legislative aspect||Political and policy domains|
|Victims||Empowerment||Methods for inclusion of victims||Social and cultural inclusion||Stronger legal protection||Better minority policies|
|“Haters”||Alternatives for expression opinion||Other ways of involvement||Stronger social pressure||Consequent legal approach||Less political justification|
|Activists||Counter arguments and practical tools||Stronger networking||More support and recognition||Legal support for prevention and measures||More political recognition and more support|
|Public||Awareness||Dynamic civil society involvement||Stronger public opinion against hate speech||Clearer agreement among governments||Less political extremism, more democracy|
Campaigns within the Campaign
The campaign is based on a European platform and a programme of activities run by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe-under the responsibility of the Joint Council on Youth. This is the European umbrella under which national/local campaigns will be carried out.
The national campaigns are implemented with the active involvement of non-governemental and governemental representatives in the field of youth, in the spirit of co-management. Responibility for initiating the campaign committees lies with the governemental youth partners of the Council of Europe (through the European Steering Committee on Youth). However, in cases where no committee has been set up, the Council of Europe welcomes joint initiatives from non-governmental partners in the countries concerned.
National campaign committees are currently being set up in 35 countries; it is expected that others will soon follow and that by the end of 2013 all of the Council of Europe's 47 member states will have a campaign up and running.
The campaign is designed to be everyone’s campaign; any organisation or individual should feel free to join and to take action whether alone or together with others.
The Preparation seminar for the online campaign took place in the European Youth Centre Strasbourg between 10-12 October 2012. The seminar was a key event in the preparation of the online campaign. Its primary function was to involve and inform the partners and future actors of the campaign and to prepare the programme of activities of the campaign as well as support and communication structures. The seminar resulted in guidelines and practical proposals for the campaign that were addressed to the Council of Europe (for decision of the Joint Council on Youth) and to the actors in the campaign.