“With great power comes great responsibility”
This statement rings especially true in context of social media interactions. While we all have access to vast forums to share and discuss a wide array of information, there is always the danger of extreme, and hate speech, taking centre stage, and leading to online abuse and targeted attacks towards individuals and groups.
Social Media platforms in general, regardless of platform, prohibits and removes hate speech, which it defines as ‘content that directly attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases’. Sometimes, people post disagreeable or disturbing content that does not violate any policies, but is still disagreeable.
Many times, extreme posts are often met with disagreement, derision, and counter campaigns.
To counter this type of disagreeable or extremist content, social media platforms consider counter speech as an effective way to tackle this problem, and also see it as a good manner to deal with crowdsourced response to extremism and hateful content.
In May 2016, the United Nations Security Council in May 2016 discussed the necessity of an international framework to combat online extremism. The discussion stressed on the need to ‘safeguard the freedom of the press’ by not resorting to excessive censorship. The forthcoming international framework could benefit from utilizing counter speech, as a viable alternative to censorship. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression stated that “repressive approaches would have the reverse effect of reinforcing the narrative of extremist ideologies”. The UN Special Rapporteur also stated that the ‘blocking websites’ would not be the right approach and “strategies addressing the root causes of such viewpoints” should be addressed. A platform which allows open discussions or debates about beliefs might lead to a more effective anti-extremism regime.
In this regard, we at CSR, in association with Twitter India, is conducting a TweetChat on the issue of “Counterspeech on Social Media” today from 8:00 pm to 8:30 pm IST. We have an awesome lineup of panelists for the same- Breakthrough US, Anshul Tiwari (Youth Ki Awaaz), Ravi Karkara (UN Women), Shruti Kapoor (Founder of Sayfty), Feminism in India and Saikat Datta (journalist). Do join in what promises to be a fascinating discussion on the issue of counterspeech!
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