Interview of Silvia Sanpellegrini from Italy after the Training Course "Silence Hate" in Berlin.
Can you give us your opinion about the project “Silence Hate“ ?
The "Silence Hate" project allowed a heterogeneous group of European young people to discuss the current issue of hate speech. It was interesting and enriched me to talk to young people from different countries who shared their experiences, even direct ones, and their point of view. The method of informal learning and activities was useful. In particular, the activity organized around the city where you had to stop people, explain the project and convince them to take a photo was really challenging and also the one that gave me the most satisfaction.
I didn't expect that in a week I would have met so many people and that I would have had so much fun exploring Berlin with new friends. I am happy to have participated, this experience has exceeded all expectations. Thanks to the project I have matured, humanly and also for the skills of team working and speaking English.
How can youth help to combat the rise of online hate speech ?
Prevent hate speech on the net is possible and necessary. Young people must first of all be made aware of this issue, because they arrive on digital platforms without having any idea of the risks to which they are exposed and becoming new and hated potential or victims. The main channel of awareness is certainly the school where you can educate, ignite debate and create new counter-narratives.
Who already knows the dangers of hate speech has the moral duty to strive for prevention rising awarness. This can be done through workshops in schools, addressing children, collaborating with social networks that can set limits to the shared material. You can organize moments of dialogue in public places by attracting the attention of those who attend them. In addition, if comfort were to be shown, messages of tolerance and support for victims would be more encouraged to denounce and react. As well as if the haters who hide behind the keyboard were punished, the cases of online hate speech would decrease.
Do you think that Media is a pathway to racism, intolerance, Islamophobia...? The web is often described as a place without rules where every user can write what it wants. In fact, there are some rules, even at European level, however, the web is characterized by the ease in being able to hide its identity (although in an illusory way in most cases), the immediacy, pervasiveness and diffusiveness of content erga omnes, amplification of the message, its replicability (between multiple users, on multiple platforms), its social validation (through "likes" or shares) and its persistence on the net. Therefore, I believe that the media are a means of spreading racism, intolerance,
Islamophobia and different forms of discrimination. Not only do they spread rooted ideas and stereotypes, but also new hate solicitations specifically created, for erroneously reported facts and fake news. The data confirms this. According to data collected by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OECD (ODIHR), in 2013 Italian law enforcement agencies recorded 472 cases of hate crimes, of which 226 (48%) concern discrimination on a religious basis; 194 (41%) concern racism and xenophobia; 52 (11%) concern discrimination against LGBT people. In 2014, the U-NAR recorded 347 cases of racist expressions on social media, of which 185 (over 50%) on Facebook, the others on Twitter and Youtube.