Less Hate, More Speech event
A debate on the Less Hate, More Speech project took place on April 27, 2017. The participants included researchers from Median Research Centre (MRC), a comment moderator, representatives of the media partners (Gazeta Sporturilor and Paginademedia.ro) and of the Ministry of Research and Innovation (MCI), as well as guests from organizations that have had initiatives tackling anti-democratic and anti-minority public discourse.
The researchers presented some of the project’s results, and there was a discussion about the experience of online comment moderation and a live demonstration of moderation.
Cătălin Tolontan, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Sporturilor, talked about the impact of working with the MRC researchers on this project, about how the 5 comment moderators, who learned a lot about hate speech, came to influence certain editorial decisions and how the newsroom itself became more aware of the importance of moderation to make the comment section more civil and protect the subjects of articles from online aggression.
MRC director Marina Popescu highlighted the most promising areas for interventions aimed at reducing intolerant and anti-democratic behaviour, online and offline. For instance, the public opinion analyses of revealed reserves of democratic values and a motivation to avoid prejudice that one can build on. They also indicated that greater awareness of individual rights can contribute to greater tolerance. Furthermore, our research confirmed that if elites avoid divisive discourse and choose to inspire unity and tolerance, this influences citizens. The online moderation, in turn, showed that not only is it possible to create and systematically apply rules to promote respect and tolerance online, but also this can, in time, reduce aggression and intolerance in online discourse.
Petrișor Obae, editor of Paginademedia.ro, also spoke about his experiences with online comments and the change he felt after joining the Less Hate, More Speech project. He also brought up the role of mass media in propagating or discouraging intolerance, as well as the need to educate the public about this.
Octaviana Marincaș, senior adviser with the MCI, emphasised the fact that research in social sciences can have profound effects in “real life” and that Romania could benefit from a better transfer of knowledge and innovation from research projects to other fields.
Less Hate, More Speech – Youngsters Get Involved!
The project is run by Median Research Centre (MRC) in partnership with Educ Association and targets young people between 12 and 17 years old, in order to help them better identify and react to online and offline hate speech.
More, on the project’s website.