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Countering online hate in the Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific summit addresses hate speech

This month, Google and YouTube hosted a closed-door Asia Pacific summit addressing online hate speech and violent extremist content at a pop-up space in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The keynote speaker at the summit was Australian author and former far-right wing extremist James Fry. Fry told The Point Magazine he wanted to show participants that, across different forms of extremism, the pull factors are generally the same.

“I wanted to show that it was the power of narrative that sucked me in to extremism and the power of ‘counter narrative’ that drew me back out.”

Fry is also an Ambassador for the “Remove Hate from the Debate” campaign, launched this month in Australia to tackle online hate speech. The campaign comes soon after the release of research findings by the Australian Government’s E-Safety Commissioner that showed alarming rates of online hate speech. 

The research showed that 53% of young Australians aged 12 to 17 years had encountered hateful content online that targeted cultural and religious groups, and 33% of young people surveyed believed they had seen or heard online material promoting terrorism.  

"We see a tremendous benefit in bringing policy makers, civil society groups and YouTube creators together to discuss the role that counter responses can play in preventing violent extremism. None of us can address this challenge on our own, we need to share information and collaborate on these efforts."

– James Fry

Working together to address the problem

Participants at the Jakarta summit, who came from across the Asia Pacific region, compared experiences dealing with online hate speech and explored different strategies to address the problem through partnerships between technology platforms, civil society groups, and online communities.

Google’s Samantha Yorke told The Point Magazine the summit brought together a diverse range of participants, including policy partners, think-tanks, content creators and local NGOs from Indonesia and Myanmar.

"We see a tremendous benefit in bringing policy makers, civil society groups and YouTube creators together to discuss the role that counter responses can play in preventing violent extremism. None of us can address this challenge on our own, we need to share information and collaborate on these efforts."

Matt Love, Director at Love Frankie, a social change creative agency, told The Point Magazine the event aimed to facilitate collaboration and connect regions facing similar problems in the Asia Pacific.

“With the Internet as a global distribution platform, more content is being created, disseminated and consumed all over the world than ever before. With the fast and easy ways to access and distribute information on the web, challenges arise alongside the opportunities, posing new threats and concerns for online stakeholders.”

Fry also said the online environment creates both challenges and opportunities for countering extremism.

“The extremist ideology that at-risk youth latch on to is no longer dependent on which extremist group happens to have a local presence. All ideologies are now ‘local’. But on a positive note, this greater reach is also open to counter narratives.”

There has been a growing focus on countering hate speech campaigns since YouTube pledged $1 million and its charity arm Google.org committed a further $2 million to help tackle online hate last year.

The Point

Google and YouTube hosted a closed-door Asia Pacific summit addressing online hate speech and violent extremist content in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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