Addressing online hate - RSA

Social media companies addressing online hate



US Timezones: 10 - 11:15am PST / 1 - 2:15pm EST

  • Social networks
  • Social justice

Recent years have seen a notable increase in online hate speech and the targeting and threatening of human rights defenders and journalists.

The Rohingya genocide was largely facilitated via social media platforms, leading to a groundbreaking investigative report in 2018 and reforms by Facebook. Twitter and Facebook have both been under pressure regarding the viral spread of fake news, propaganda, and hateful rhetoric. Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic speech has often gone unremedied, and the summer of 2020 noted increased racism on media platforms. In the fall of 2020, during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, multiple reporters and human rights lawyers were targeted – leading to Reporters Sans Frontiers to issue a formal complaint regarding the hate speech and threats received. Questions arise as to the effectiveness of the reporting process, with widespread concern about the use of artificial intelligence by social media platforms and the bias that exists in the “training” of the AI. Despite the oversight efforts of Congress, measurable progress in halting the spread of online hate speech has been slow in materializing.

In this event, experts will discuss the existing problem, legal concerns and debates, and practical solutions to end the spread of hate and violence that exists on online media platforms.

Our panelists will be:

Abed Ayoub, JD Abed A. Ayoub serves as the National Legal & Policy Director of the American -Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee (ADC), the country's largest Arab American civil rights organization, based in Washington, D.C. Throughout his career Ayoub has worked to address issues impacting Arabs and Muslims in the United States, including matters related to discrimination, immigration, hate crimes, surveillance and profiling. 

Sara Elizabeth Dill, JD/LLM FRSA Sara Elizabeth Dill is a partner at Anethum Global. Her primary areas of focus include international law, foreign affairs, war crimes, human rights, cross-border illicit finance and national security. Sara currently serves as the Arab Region War Crimes officer for the International Bar Association, and her TEDx talk, “Women Are Not Weapons of War” focused on the unique plight of women during armed conflict.

Thomas Hughes | Thomas Hughes is the Director of the Oversight Board Administration. His career includes stints as Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, an international human rights organisation, and Executive Director & Founder of Diversity, an international advertising network for online news media in human rights restricted countries. Based in the UK, Hughes has been an advisor on human rights to previous UK Foreign Secretaries and is a governor at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

Prof. Molly Land, JD | Molly K. Land is the Catherine Roraback Professor of Law and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut School of Law and Associate Director of the University of Connecticut’s Human Rights Institute. Her research focuses on the intersection of human rights, science, and technology, and her most recent book is New Technologies for Human Rights Law and Practice(CUP 2018, ed. with Jay Aronson). She recently completed a term as an alternate on the Board of Directors of the Global Network Initiative.

Prof. Arjun Sethi, JD Arjun Singh Sethi is a human rights lawyer, professor, author, and community activist based in Washington, DC. He works closely with Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh communities, and holds faculty appointments at Georgetown University Law Center and Vanderbilt University Law School. In the wake of the 2016 election, Arjun traveled the country and met with a diversity of people to document the hate they experienced during the campaign and after inauguration. American Hate: Survivors Speak Out was released in August 2018 and named an NPR Best Book of the Year.

This event was recorded.

RSA US Special Events feature Fellow-led, panel format programming that offer a venue for learning and reflecting on salient topics of the day. US based RSA Fellows are encouraged to reach out to RSA US staff at [email protected] to discuss hosting their own RSA US Special Event that is aligned with our ethos of "resolving the challenges of our time."

Photo attribution: The image used for this event is the property of Tim Pierce. RSA US adapted the image under the terms of the (CC BY 4.0) attribution license. The original image may be accessed via Flickr.