Association “Sustainability of progressive and open communication” (SPOC)
The project aims to prevent and combat the spread of online hate speech and disinformation through media literacy education and initiatives of young people from the regions of Sofia and Vidin. We would like to find educational solutions to dangerous speech and other forms of harmful expression. The idea encloses training of young mediators to support local youth communities and educational workshops for recognizing different forms of hate speech, disinformation and how to counteract.
The project will take place in the regions of Sofia and Vidin, Bulgaria.
Fear is the biggest motivator in spreading 'dangerous speech' in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides having the lowest resilience potential in EU to deal with misinformation and its effects (according to the Media literacy index 2019, Institute “Open society-Sofia”), the pandemic has generated a new wave of hate and disinformation across the world amplified by the internet and further sharpening different forms of intolerance and discrimination. This applies much stronger in small communities, depopulated and poverty – struck places such as the region of Vidin. The lack of skills and knowledge to recognize fake news, forms of hate speech, leads to exaggerating conspiracy theories, provoking aggressive behaviour and might cause anxiety and mental problems.
Equipping youth with the needed tools, knowledge, information, competences and attitudes will give them possibility to combat hate speech and to strengthen the resilience towards misinformation of young people at local level by human right approach. Investing in their media literacy capacity will make them act in an informed and critical way and will give them opportunity to become ambassadors of the shared democracy values and active citizenship in their communities and among their peers.
Over the past few years, society in Bulgaria has been affected by the ever-growing wave of aggressive, offensive and discriminative viewpoints, including xenophobia and racism. In crises like the COVID-19 pandemic creates manipulative environment especially in the online social platforms. We would like to focuse on young people, based on the PISA research, which showed that Bulgarian young people are last in finctional literacy. In addition, young people are exposed to hate speech from a very young age due to their early entry into the digital world. And last, but not least they are the engine of change in each community. It is essential to make efforts towards increasing media literacy of the young people and to give means to them to be active, defending democracy values.
Development of program - educational materials and training modules;
Organizing trainings in local communities of Sofia and Vidin districts for 15 mediators on media literacy. They will be able to provide mentorship to the local young people and not only how to recognize fake information, fraud mails and profiles, how to act if they become victims of cyberbullying or how to report about forms of hate speech and aggressive online behaviour;
Organizing educational workshops for 60 young people. The workshops will use non formal and proactive educational approach;
Accelerator for youth initiatives to counteract hate speech among their communities – organizing discussion workshops to support local young people to generate ideas for local initiatives (online and offline).
The expected results are the following:
Available training materials;
Trained 15 of local mentors on media literacy;
Increased knowledge and skills of 60 young people on the topic of preventing hate speech, tackling fake news and misinformation;
Generated number of local initiatives to combat forms of intolerance and hate speech;
Young people have stronger resilience to deal with misinformation and hate speech.
The phenomenon of online hate speech and disinformation can be tackled by permeant efforts towards increasing the media literacy education among people and better understanding of the contemporary digital environment. Thus, the present project will contribute to strengthening democracy by investing in young people’s capacity to prevent and combat all forms of online intolerance, critical views on media news and motivation for citizens activism. Sofia and Vidin as border regions for the EU and implementing many initiatives with neighboring countries will contribute to strengthening democracy on a wider scale.
As an NGO, working for years to improve the media environment in Bulgaria and in Europe, SPOC has the expertise and the right motivation to build upon its’ initiatives, as we are facing the consequences of misinformation and hybrid manipulations. The consequences reflect on democratic processes, the mental and physical health of young people, relationships in society and, as a result, on social inequality, prosperity, poverty and learned helplessness of citizens.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Total: 48 800
Development of training materials and programs: 9000
Organizing trainings and workshops: 19 000
Printing of materials and dissemination: 6800
Project management: 8000
Administrative costs: 6000
Any feedback on the proposed idea is very welcome!