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Conferences & lectures

Decoding Hate Speech: Technology and hate speech — friend or foe?

Date/time change

Date & time

Thursday, October 8, 2020
9 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Registration is closed


Christopher Tuckwood, Meetali Jain, Savita Pawnday


This event is free


Lamensch Marie



This event will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook.

A decade ago, social media was an agent of positive change, enabling democratic movements, giving access to new knowledge, and empowering individuals and communities around the world. However, by revolutionizing the way we communicate and interact, the Internet and social media have also considerably amplified the rise of hate-fueled rhetoric and polarization that we have seen in recent years.

Online hate speech has had a significant impact in the offline world: inflammatory speech online has contributed to ethnic cleansing and mob violence in places such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka; hate speech escalated to violence against Europe’s Roma during the global pandemic; ISIS weaponized social media to radicalize people all over the globe. Democratic societies are not immune. Racist speech by white supremacists in the U.S. led to real violence in Charleston and malign actors are spreading disinformation on social media in order to exacerbate existing social tensions.

Big Tech companies have abdicated responsibility for malign activities on social media that have already affected the lives of people and fate of nations. The business interests of Big Tech companies are currently incompatible with democratic values and the respect of human rights. Although some steps were taken, they remain opaque, fragmented and inconsistent.

Can information and communication technologies still be used for positive change and democracy, and if so, how? How can we prevent Big Tech from profiting from online harm and negatively influencing the daily lives of people around the world? What tools, mechanisms and approaches can be used by states, civil society and the private sector to counter online hate?

The second session of the “Decoding Hate Speech” series will address the complexity of this social media phenomenon with an informed and multi-partied approach to identify and counter the harmful effects of Big Tech on human rights.

Moderator and introductory remarks

Kyle Matthews, Executive Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS)


  • Savita Pawnday, Deputy Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
  • Meetali Jain, international human rights lawyer and Legal Director at Avaaz
  • Christopher Tuckwood, Executive Director of The Sentinel Project

Participants will be able to submit questions before the event via email at and during the event via the live chat.

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