Project Seriously: the platform to face online hate
What is Project Seriously?
Project Seriously is a collaborative project working to empower a civic response to online hate. Most hate speech sits in a grey zone, on the borderline of legality (stereotypes, prejudices, etc.). There is no algorithmic or legislative fix for eradicating all hate from the internet. Seriously aims to instill bravery and digital citizenship in those confronted by online hate, empowering them to respond positively—or to be ‘active bystanders’—in the face of hateful online content.
Seriously facilitates counter-speech through its online platform (www.seriously.ong), the contents of which are continually nourished by a network of partners. In this way, Seriously complements existing legal or platform reporting mechanisms for hate speech as well as existing moderation efforts and research into counter-speech strategies. Designed originally for the French context, Seriously.ong is most suited to French audiences in its current form.
How does it work?
The Seriously method consists of three steps, which are embodied in an online platform (www.seriously.ong) designed to accompany internet users. The platform suggests concrete arguments and behavioral approaches through a user experience in three functions:
- Factual elements (key figures, data, graphs, etc.) to spark objective and critical thinking;
- Expert advice to support users emotionally and psychologically in order to enter into dialogue;
- Resources suitable for a digital format (videos, images, etc.) to illustrate the counter-argumentation.
Internet users can use this platform as a training tool to help master the three-step method, and they can also transfer contents directly from the platform into online exchanges in order to respond to online hate and encourage more positive online conversations.
Who’s behind it?
Seriously is a project incubated by Renaissance Numérique, a French not-for-profit think-tank focused on digital issues and their social implications. NGOs and advocacy groups, experts and academics, French and international institutions, and social media platforms themselves are all stakeholders in the project, which was co-constructed in 2016. Two governing bodies steer the direction of the project to ensure the relevance of its content and method: the Steering Committee, composed of partner associations, and the Scientific Council, composed of researchers and academic partners.
How do we work with partners?
When facing hateful online content, context is critical. Seriously.ong was first designed for and with French partners. In 2016, when Project Seriously began in France, many organisations countering hate offline were ill equipped to address hate online. Seriously’s collaboration with partner organisations has helped them approach their pivotal role in maintaining social cohesion in the digital environment. Today, NGO’s like SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie use the platform Seriously.ong for their online advocacy.
Online hate is a transnational concept, and the three-step Seriously method is universal. Seriously welcomes anyone working on this topic — in any language, in any country— to reach out to us. We would love to see the Seriously platform localized and brought to other contexts. If you think that these three steps can be adapted to fight online hate in your context, contact us to explore how we can work together!
Contact: Claire Pershan, Project Manager firstname.lastname@example.org