Supporting communities affected by dangerous speech
Jordan Carter Chief Executive •
We have just launched our on-demand grant funding to support communities affected by dangerous speech online. If you know someone you think should apply, please encourage them to get in touch with us for a chat.
Increase in visible public online hate
This year we have seen a dramatic increase in visible public online hate and violent extremism targeted towards marginalised communities in New Zealand. While this is in no way a new phenomenon, what has become clear is that Aotearoa New Zealand’s current systems are not equipped to adequately support victims of online hate, violent extremism, and targeted abuse and threats.
We understand this as ‘dangerous speech,’ which is any form of expression (e.g. speech, text, or images) that can increase the risk that its audience will condone or participate in violence against members of another group. This is broader than hate speech, and can be seen online and offline. On various social media platforms across the Internet we have seen a rise in fringe extremism, mis and disinformation, and hateful sentiments that are all putting targeted communities at risk. Much of this content can be identified as “harmful,” but often won’t be overtly hateful, and won’t be illegal. This means it goes under the radar for both social media companies, and New Zealand law enforcement.
We have seen victims and targeted groups of dangerous speech left with nowhere to turn to seek help or justice when they are being abused or threatened online.
Social media platforms can’t respond quickly or effectively enough to curb harm, and often lack the New Zealand context required to understand the severity of online content.
The New Zealand agencies that do take and respond to reports of dangerous speech are fragmented, and often can’t act on the reports they receive. The reporting landscape can be difficult to navigate as a victim, and often the content that has caused the most harm slips through the cracks.
These problems disproportionately affect communities who are already overburdened and under-resourced. We know that the government has been moving forwards on many initiatives to improve these systems, and this has led to a constant ask of communities for their input to consultations. This can be time consuming, resource intensive, and retraumatising for communities.
There are no simple solutions, but far more needs to be done to address this issue and we want to support communities who are hurting right now.
On-demand grant round open
Our current on-demand funding will support affected communities and associated organisations around Aotearoa New Zealand as they grapple with the rising incidence of online extremism, racism, transphobia, and hate motivated abuse online (‘dangerous speech’).
This funding is just one of many things InternetNZ is doing to work for a better online environment for everyone. Since the attacks on Christchurch masjid we have talked about building an Internet for good. The Internet offers endless opportunities for positive change, yet currently social media has become a place where people are attacked, oppressed and marginalised. Meaningful change can only happen if marginalised communities are able to contribute to the solutions. These groups are likely to be the least resourced to contribute, and this funding is to support these groups to have their voices heard and to develop and test their own ideas.
We want to support initiatives that:
- understand and explore how dangerous speech is impacting your community
- develop and test initiatives to improve experiences for communities online
- engage in government processes (submissions, consultations, community organising) so your community’s voice is represented
- build capability to support your community when suffering abuse online
- support a diverse range of New Zealanders to have their voices heard to create a better, safer Internet.
We want this process to work for the people and communities who most need support. We will prioritise funding initiatives from groups who support and are led by tāngata whenua, Pasifika peoples, migrants and refugees, faith-based communities, the rainbow community and gender minorities, and people with disabilities.
We welcome anyone to get in touch for a chat to see if this grant might be right for them or their organisation. Our Community Team is happy to provide guidance and support. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and find further details about the grant on our website.