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Contextualizing Tech Tools to Counter Hate: The Work of PeaceTech Lab

Contextualizing Tech Tools to Counter Hate: The Work of PeaceTech Lab

This post appears in the Special Issue on Countering Hate and Violent Extremism of the Peace Science Digest in collaboration with Thought Partnerships. 

PeaceTech Lab works to identify, monitor, and combat hate speech on social media in fragile and conflict-affected countries around the world. One example is the development of hate speech lexicons, which identify and explain inflammatory language on social media while offering alternative words and phrases that can be used to combat the spread of hate speech. Our lexicons serve as a pivotal resource for local activists and organizations working to stop and prevent hate speech worldwide. 

In 2020, the Lab developed the Countering Hate Action Network (CHAN) program as a response to a request from lexicon partnersorganizations with whom PeaceTech Lab partners to identify hate speech terms in different countriesto strengthen their skills to effectively fight hate speech and division in their respective contexts. The Lab then invited 11 lexicon partners from Africa and the Middle East to take part in a seven-month CHAN program. The aim of the program was to train lexicon partners on well-researched best practices and 19 low-cost/easy-to-use technology tools to counter hate speech and division in their respective locales, while also providing these partners with a community of practice to support them in these efforts.   

CHAN members attended seven live sessions on best practices that were facilitated to encourage contextspecific experiencesharing of best practices to counter hate speech. In addition, expert technologists led 19 sessions for members on technology tools to identify, monitor, and counter hate speech. With the support of the Lab, CHAN members designed and are now implementing threemonth, highly contextualized, action-oriented projects. 

CHAN’s content and live sessions are housed on the Thought Partnerships platform, which is also used by members to exchange ideas, share experiences, and strengthen their network. Members also directly communicate through a WhatsApp group created for fast and easy communication to exchange ideas and for potential collaboration. 

Feedback from a monitoring and evaluation process revealed that members found the CHAN program relevant to and useful in their fight against hate speech. They have also expressed interest in attending another phase of the CHAN program. The PeaceTech Lab is now in the process of developing a CHAN Training of Trainers Program, which will be opened to existing members and other peace actors/organizations interested in learning how to counter hate speech and division using best practices and technology tools. 

Authors

Achol Jok Mach, Senior Specialist at PeaceTech Lab

Editorial note: Research to Action posts highlight the ways that individuals and organizations use academic research to inform their program design and implementation. By showcasing real-life examples of how research informs action, we demonstrate how to bridge the gap between research and practice.

Photo credit: Bruce Warrington-Ds0fmWI0cRU-unsplas

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