Countering Hate Speech Online
Directions for students
How cool is it when your favorite music app recommends one of your favorite songs? Or when a streaming service suggests you watch a show a show you were already thinking about watching? These apps use algorithms (basically, computer code) to personalize your experience: to learn what you like and then recommend shows, songs, and other content you're likely to enjoy.
Most social media, news, and entertainment apps have this convenient feature now, but it also has some drawbacks. By recommending certain content over others, these apps are influencing what you see, hear, and read. They might even be recommending content that isn't good for you, like hate speech, which almost two-thirds of teens say they have encountered online (Social Media, Social Life, Common Sense Media, 2018).
But there is a way to turn down the hate and say, "Later, haters!" In this lesson, you'll see how xenophobia and the internet contribute to hate speech and learn how you can be an upstander and spread the love. Let's get started!
As you go through the steps of the lesson, use the student handout below to take notes, answer questions, and brainstorm.
Xenophobia is defined as a fear or distrust of someone or something that is foreign or unknown. Read the article below and then answer the questions in Part 1 of the student handout.
Read: "Understanding Xenophobia" | 7 mins.
Review the two resources below and track what each says about hate speech, xenophobia, and the internet and what we can do to address the problems they cause. Capture your thoughts in the notes section in Part 2 of the student handout.
Listen or Read: Instagram Has a Problem with Hate Speech and Extremism, 'Atlantic' Reporter Says | 4 mins.
One powerful response to online hate speech and xenophobia is online "counter-speech," which is videos, messages, posts, or other speech that challenge or debunk extremist messages and stereotypes. Watch the two videos below and then answer the video questions in Part 3 of the student handout.
Watch: "Three Questions for Dr. Erin Marie Saltman" | 3 mins.
Watch: "YouTube Creators for Change: Humza Arshad" | 5 mins.
Go to Part 4 of the student handout and complete the quiz.
Stand up to hate speech. Consider the different types of xenophobia and hate speech that have been mentioned (racism, sexism, anti-immigrantism, homophobia, etc.). Choose one that you want to counter and use Part 5 of the student handout to brainstorm ideas for doing so. After you have brainstormed, use your phone to record and share your idea using the hashtag #laterhaters. Make sure to include the type of hate speech or xenophobia you are responding to.