- the harm done to its targets, either from personal harassment or from online spaces being experienced as hostile;
- the risk that those who encounter it may be radicalized by it, becoming more sympathetic and possibly even active; and
- the effect that it has on the values and culture of the online spaces in which it happens.
Online hate can have an impact in three interconnected ways:
Since its earliest days, the internet has been hailed as a uniquely open marketplace of ideas, and it has become an essential means for people to access information and services. The downside of this is that, alongside its many valuable resources, the internet also offers a host of offensive materials – including hateful content – that attempt to inflame public opinion against certain groups and to turn people against one another.
It is not always easy to discern when hateful content on the internet crosses the line from being offensive to illegal. The line between hate speech and free speech is a thin one, and different countries have different levels of tolerance. The line is even thinner in digital environments where hateful comments posted lawfully in one country can be read in other countries where they may be deemed unlawful.
The Responding to Online Hate guide assists law enforcement personnel, community groups and educators in recognizing and countering hateful content on the Internet – especially as it pertains to youth.
There are two main strategies for addressing online hate and cultures of hatred in the classroom: teaching youth to recognize and deconstruct it, and empowering them to intervene by answering back to it.
Traditional government responses to online hate have been to police cyberspace as an extension of the state’s territory, ignoring the online/offline divide.
It’s been almost fifteen years since Mark Prensky coined the term “digital native” to describe young people who have grown up with the Internet and digital media. In fact, the children who were born the year Prensky’s book was published are now in high school. While for many, the public perception of young people taking to digital platforms like ducks to water persists – accompanied by the image of adults, particularly parents, who are seen (often by themselves) as hopelessly out of their depth – the question remains how close that image is to reality. Are Canadian youth truly digitally literate? And if they are not “digital natives” who effortlessly acquire their skills on their own or from peers, are students learning what they need from their parents or teachers?
In this lesson, students are introduced to Earth Day and the theme of “Green Cities”. After listening to a short presentation on the concept of a “green city” and elements that constitute a green city (e.g. renewable energy sources such as solar panels, more energy-efficient buildings, recycling programs, cleaner air and water) students participate in an activity where they count the number of parks on a map of their city or neighbourhood. Maps are then analyzed as a medium as students discuss how they are created, things they can and can’t show, and their effectiveness at communicating environmental information.