Combatting Hate and “Dangerous” Speech

For the past few years, I was the lead volunteer organizer for Nonprofit Tech Club Austin, part of TechSoup Connect (2015-2021). The club affiliates with NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network, TechSoup, and locally, startup incubator Capital Factory. This means our “reach” has local, national and global.

One benefit of our partnership with TechSoup specifically is we learn about inspiring new ideas from other tech club chapters, as well as from TechSoup and its divisions like Caravan Studios and the Public Good App House. A 2019 webinar on hate speech and those monitoring it globally was particularly eye opening. This post shares information presented during that program as well as additional discussions and resources I have since discovered.

This post was written in 2019 and it has become one of my most-read. I continue to update it as more information becomes available. One new discovery is the Dangerous Speech Project. They sum the problem up well:

“People don’t commit violence against other groups – or even condone it – spontaneously. First they must be taught to see other people as pests, vermin, aliens, or threats. Malicious leaders often use the same types of rhetoric to do this, in myriad cultures, languages, countries, and historical periods. We call this Dangerous Speech. Violence might be prevented by making it less abundant or less convincing.

Only a few years ago, I believed the United States was more egalitarian and tolerant than ever. I did not see racism in Texas, and mostly witnessed an ever-growing appreciation for differences in terms of culture and ethnicity. In fact, since returning to Austin in 2013, I was impressed by the new monuments on the Texas State Capitol grounds, including the stately Tejano and African American History installations. They are well worth a visit.

But in 2016, an eruption of hateful speech at the national level occurred from which I am still reeling. It was like a long dormant volcano had erupted, causing an international avalanche of hateful speech and behavior. This led me to seek solutions about how to combat hate in the context of the nonprofit sector.

Combatting Hate Speech

I was encouraged to learn the Council of Foundations launched a program in 2020 aimed at alleviating hateful behavior (and funding). “In late 2020, the Council on Foundations (the Council) launched the Values-Aligned Philanthropy project to continue to build on their previous efforts within the philanthropic sector to respond to growing concern about the issue of funding hate and extremism.” Follow the link above to read more and download a recent report.

The United Sates Department of Justice has a relatively new webpage that includes a link, “Get Help Now.” Visit the website often for periodic updates about hate, and actions taken to deal with hateful actions and hate crimes. Keep up the good work!

The following are also working to identify, monitor and to develop ways to combat dangerous rhetoric around the world. Visit them online and support their work.

PeaceTech Lab

We believe everyone has the power of peacetech so we leverage low-cost, easy-to-use tech and local partnerships to put the right tools in the hands of the people best positioned to make a difference: activists, peacebuilders, and NGOs in some of the most violent places on earth.

Hatebase

Hatebase is a software platform built to help organizations and online communities detect, monitor and quarantine hate speech. Our algorithms analyze public conversations using a broad vocabulary based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and class, with data across 80+ languages and 200+ countries.

Metamorphosis Foundation

The Metamorphosis Foundation offers IT solutions, developed according to the needs of the clients or as part of the project. At the same time, we offer favorable and quality services for development, adaptation, localization and updating of web content.

  • Council on Foundations via Independent Sector, “Values-Aligned Philanthropy for Community Foundations” (2022). “Through our Values-Aligned Philanthropy project, the Council on Foundations is encouraging foundations to take steps to ensure that they are not funding hate. Our white paper created a landscape scan of the issue and the work being done in the philanthropic sector to combat hate funding. We also maintain an online hub with updated links to resources and sample policies.”
  • TechSoup Global hosts Caravan Studios. Public Good Tech to Combat Hate Speech Pinterest board, where Caravan Studios is curating tech solutions and discussions on combating hate speech. They note, “we encourage you to include your own links to relevant resources, important data sets, lexicons, and reports by adding them into the editable Webinar Resources doc.”

Positive Thinking Support

There are more helpful websites and apps than the below online, but I wanted to point out a few that I like. You might also enjoy reading about resources I share on, “Dealing With Stress.”

  • Achieving Positive Thinking Worldwide is a California-based nonprofit that got in touch with me a few years ago via Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog. Follow Yvette L. Kelley on social media for constant positive messages.
  • Calm app, “We’re a small and mighty team passionate about mental fitness, relaxation and sleep.”
  • Happify seeks to instill happiness. “… The brain we’re born with can be changed. Technically speaking, they call that neuroplasticity; we can change it by adopting new thought patterns, by training our brain as if it were a muscle, to overcome negative thoughts.”
  • Pozify is a social networking platform that rewards you for promoting and spreading positivity while solving the problem you can’t trust anything on the internet.

Giving Thanks for Diversity

“God did not burden the United States with a diversity of backgrounds, ideas and religions, He blessed America with them.”

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (b. 1944)

This post was written at Thanksgiving 2016. I have continued to update it as new information becomes available. I find the message to be timeless and increasingly important to America and the world, year-round!

My hope is that all citizens of the United States will see diversity as a blessing. Recent years have been tumultuous for ethnic groups across America and the world. Tolerance seems to have taken a backseat to misunderstanding, irrational fear, emotional outbursts and occasional violence.

Among the many nonprofit organizations for which I have worked, those focusing on the environment have taught me that human beings are no different from other animals in the sense that they have developed physically in unique and interesting ways over tens of thousands of years.

Yet oddly enough, while we are endlessly fascinated by the physical diversity found in birds, mammals, fish and the like, when it comes to our own human species some of us are intolerant of those who look and behave differently from our own group. We sometimes fear those who hold religious beliefs dissimilar from our own, and those who maintain cultural traditions we do not understand.

“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Ronald Reagan, American president (1911-2004)

During SXSW a few years ago, I attended a series of sessions on Tech Inclusion. Hosted by Galvanize and the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings Initiative, panel discussions began early on a Sunday morning in downtown Austin at the then-new offices of Atlassian, and continued all day long. I learned about the challenges LGBTQIA citizens have securing and holding “regular” corporate jobs, about common issues military veterans re-entering the workforce face, how underrepresented minorities struggle in the workplace with the simplest accommodations and general perceptions, as do older generations and women in the workplace.

SXSW

After listening for several hours of well-considered discussion and dialogue, I felt these Tech Inclusion presentations should be televised and made available to a much broader audience. Not only the tech industry but every industry – and the general populace – would benefit.

I was raised to be tolerant. Figuratively speaking, we were urged as children to, “step into the shoes” of others and try to see the world from their point of view before speaking and acting on often misleading initial impressions. That was a powerful learning experience and one more people need to experience at an early age. From Psychology Today, “It is often easier to have empathy for someone who is like us but it is possible to learn empathy for those who are different from us. This kind of understanding, according to Reiss, can cross bridges and promote positive social behavior. Maybe we could use a little more empathy in our world.”

“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.”

Cesar Chavez, American activist (1927-1993)