The role of influencers and other digital content producers in online violence dynamics and as agents for transformation is sparsely considered. An action-research method is proposed to: (i) track issues and targets of conflict and hatred and to measure their impact, (ii) train for protection and resilience and for the use of counter-narratives and strategies for a non-violent communication; (iii) contribute to a non-violent digital culture.
Online hate is a prevalent form of violence with serious consequences for mental health. It generates and maintains disinformation and prejudice, threatening social cohesion and the basis of a democratic society. Legal and technological measures have been ineffective. The mass amplification and opportunity for hidden or unanimous socialization within hate groups turns social networks into a fertile ground for radicalization, the spread of hate, and disinformation. A complex set of political and cultural factors, including financial crises, mediatization of violence and social and political conflict, aggravates the phenomenon, and the massification of communication via technology makes this a combat on a large digital scale. Most of these circumstances intensified in the COVID-19 era.
Influencers and other digital content producers, youth and general digital network community.
PACIFY’s goals are to: (i) evaluate the experience of digital influencers and content producers (DICP) in contact with hostile interactions and the impact on their well-being; (ii) explore DICP’s role on the dynamics of conflict; (iii) train them to enable counter-narratives and strategies that enrich their portfolio of non-violent communication, protection, and resilience; (iv) prepare a national digital campaign, talks, and workshops on non-violence communication.
The steps and tasks include:
1) monitoring social networks to identify topics of hatred, as well as and DICPs, in articulation with agencies and partners;
2) focus groups with DICP, to share and discuss experiences of hostile interactions;
3) training with DICP, accompanied by data collection - before and after - focusing on: motivations and attitudes associated with hate speech; the escalation of conflict and interchangeability of victim and aggressor positions; counter-narratives and non-violent communication; well-being and resilience;
4) digital campaign, with monitoring of penetration and engagement metrics on major social networks;
5) discussion groups to strengthen the results of the campaign and training;
6) workshops and talks at schools and universities, to disseminate results and promote counter-narratives and non-violent communication skills among the youth community.
PACIFY’s goal is to activate social transformation, mobilizing personalities with high penetration in social media as ambassadors of online hate counter-action. By enacting digital community resources for protection, resilience, and counter-narratives, the goal is to dismantle chains of hatred interactions and to spread a culture of non-violence. This is expected to improve both well-being among digital communities and offline social cohesion and resilience. The project will contribute with tools to monitor and intervene on online hate, explore the role of DICP on the dynamics of online hate and their potential for social transformation. A multimedia report and two scientific papers will systematize good practices and strategies for intervention and inform public policy and research.
PACIFY will work collaboratively with influencers and other DICPs, using focus-groups to allow them to share their experiences and to access social and peer support. Training will raise DICP’s awareness on the dynamics of conflict escalation, helping them to frame and give meaning to hatred attacks from users, and to identify strategies of counter-action. A digital campaign will engage the general public in a broader movement. Workshops and talks will take place – the latter in schools and universities - activating the agency of youth for social transformation.
The team includes junior and senior researchers, from the complementary areas of Psychology and Communication Sciences, with experience in the fields of digital media and influencers, human rights, feminism, gender equality, and antiracism activism. One of the team leaders is engaged and experienced in the fields of advocacy, activism and education for human and civil rights, human diversity, and democracy and citizenship. The project will also include the scientific consultancy of the postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp Gaelle Ouvrein.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Two research grants € 9,636.24, € 7,227.18); 1 computer (€ 1100), 1 external disk (€ 200) and 1 audio recorder (€ 80), 1 microphone (€ 80) and headphones (€ 40), € 1500; bibliography € 400; travel and accommodation costs €15000; services (transcript of discussion groups, € 400; training in digital methods 12 hours, € 1200; design of images and videos for campaign, € 1000; design for online event, € 350); costs for open access publication € 2500 and participation in scientific conferences € 1000.