IGF 2018 WS #317
Media and Information Literacy: Countering Online Hate


Sub-theme description: Media and Information Literacy

Organizer 1: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Organizer 2: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Speaker 1: Magda Abu-Fadil, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Divina FRAU-MEIGS, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Owono Julie, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Clara Sommier, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 90 Min


The speakers will speak on the following topics respectively:

Magda Abu-Fadil - Media and information literacy, hate and human rights
Julie Owono - An overview of media and information literacy initiatives and research from all regions of the world designed to make citizens more resilient to hate and violence online
Divina Fraug-Meigs - Combatting online hate speech through MIL: a French approach
Clara Sommier - Prevent and counter the diffusion of terrorist and hate content
Alton Grizzle - Youth perspectives on hate, radical and extremist content online: some preliminary research findings


The speakers and respondents will be gender-balanced, coming from different regions of the world, including developing countries, and from both public and private sectors.

This session will address the following three sets of questions: 1) Are there existing media and information literacy (MIL) related projects focused on hate and radicalization online? What are the commonalities among these projects? Are there good practices for replication? 2) Is there a body of research findings relating enlisting MIL to build community resilience against hate and violent extremism? How are these findings link to national policies? What public policy actions are required? Are these findings informing the formulation of new projects and pilot initiatives? Are there significant research gaps to be addressed? 3) What linkages can be made between MIL and other social competencies to foster peace and human solidarity? How can MIL enhance the use of artificial intelligence in social development? Who are the key stakeholders and what levels of cooperation among them being necessary? What are the public policy implications here?

The session will be interactive. Each presentation will be followed with a brief Q&A session. Each participant will be invited to write down three ideas for countering online hate and violence at the beginning of the session, and to adjust them after all the presentations. They will then be invited to present the ideas as well as the changes made at the end of the session. Speakers can further comment on the short presentations in case of relevance to their own presentation. This is a way to keep participants focused during the presentations and effectively demonstrate the outcomes of the knowledge/experience sharing.

The Internet has transformed how we socialize and participate in all aspects of social, economic, cultural and political life. As with most new inventions, the overwhelming positives bring challenges that cannot be ignored. The Internet is progressively more abused to promote radicalization, hate and extremism that leads to violence. On the other hand, it offers new opportunities and tools to counter these same social ills and creating lasting human solidarity and peace.

More and more governments and other social actors are developing separate and comprehensive strategies to counter radicalization, prevent violent extremism and hate. Interventions range from reducing the supply of violent extremist content, reducing the demand for such content and suppressing it or crowding it out with more pluralistic, democratic, rights-based and peace content, and finally making maximum use of violent and extremist content in cyberspace to obtain intelligence. The reduction of the supply of radical content is primarily pursued through use of technologies themselves including computer algorithms (e.g. Expert Systems and talk of Artificial Intelligence).
However, the tendency is to underestimate the potency of citizens and community empowerment – particularly through media and information literacy (MIL).

The root causes of violence, especially hate and violent extremism have many dimensions. These include power struggles, illegal wealth gain, lack of education, poverty, misinformation, prejudices, and discrimination. At the basis of many of these is the absence of respect for individual rights or equal rights to all – the right to cultural and religious expressions, the right to security and peace, the right to freedom of expression, the right to education, the right to information, the right to associate or connect, the right to life et al.

Here, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” - is breached. It is this reasoning and conscience that the acquisition of MIL competencies can stir in all peoples.

Additionally, violence also comes from ideological beliefs, which in turn comes from our socialization - transmitted from one generation to the next. Socialization is rooted in information and communication, and increasingly taking place through technological platforms, media and all forms of learning environments. MIL can help citizens to identify and resist attempts to shape their identity for rights-violating purposes. It can empower them to critique a culture of violence as they may encounter it through technology and media, and to embrace instead a culture of peace, tolerance and respect.

Citizens, especially young people, must know how to search, critically evaluate, use and contribute information and media content wisely. MIL competencies can allow them to acquire knowledge of one’s rights online; understanding how to combat online hate speech and cyberbullying; understanding of the ethical issues surrounding the access and use of information; and engage with media and ICTs to promote equality, free expression, intercultural/interreligious dialogue, peace etc., thereby being better able to counter hate speech and radicalization online. Indeed, such competencies are becoming increasingly important today, not only for young people but also for all citizens.

Fostering these 21-Century competencies for all citizens is one sustainable way to complement the use of Artificial Intelligence to tackle hate and violent extremism online. The UNESCO pioneering resource "Media and Information Literacy: Reinforcing Human Rights, Countering Radicalization and Extremism" will serve as a basis for this session.

Online Participation

Online attendees will have a separate queue and microphone, which will rotate equally with the mics in the room; the workshop moderator will have the online participation session open, and will be in close communication with the workshop’s trained online moderator, to make any adaptations necessary as they arise.