Online Love Speech is the first campaign in the MENA region to raise awareness and to mobilize a network of influential and activists in order to spread Online Love Speech in the region.
Why? Online hate speech is a worldwide phenomenon that is getting increasingly worse, paralell with the growing number of social media platforms and the growing number of social media users (SMU). This phenomenon of online hate speech was created by some SMU who believed that they have the ultimate freedom to post on their walls, to tweet, to share, to comment whatever they like. Often, the generated content can be dehumanising, insulting, harsh and racist. Making comments “routinely” and without taking the time to think about the content being posted and shared online is becoming problematic phenomena of negative consequences of the hate initiated online.
This issue might sound trivial for some but, in reality, it can impose a severe negative impact on the people who are affected by this hate-speech. Claiming that, “it is my wall on Facebook” and I can write whatever I like or on Twitter, I can mention you, accuse you, attack you because “I can do that” and if you do not like it “do not read it” is a form of “Online Hate Speech”. This is considered a crime by 29 countries globally, including Jordan. The invisible fine line between “freedom of expression versus causing online hate speech” is a tricky issue. to further aggrevate the problem, most hate speech generating SMUs produce hate content unintentionally due to a lack of awareness. Currently, we need continuous awareness about themes of online hate speech, where it exists, what it means, and how we can prevent it from occurring in the first place. Additionally, there is a need to have alternative positive narratives that contribute more to the aspired positive online content.
Any hate speech that starts with a few words online can be brutally transformed by the local online community. This campaign is based on the danger of the existence of this phenomenon (online hate speech) and highlights that it is a serious, real “problem” and “it is not okay”. When we talk about online hate speech, we are not talking about violent extremism online. We are talking about content that may seem to be a simple and non-serious hateful comment rather than a form of violent extremism. If you examine a timeline online over a period of two weeks, you will witness the intensity of racism, cyber-bullying, insulting, lack of dialogue, lack of self-respect, and respect towards others. With this comes the “attitude” to “dehumanize and to reject others”; rejections of 'the other' is often associated with violent acts, whether verbal or physical, just because the 'other' “does not share my opinions, my lifestyle".
What happens to freedom of expression and privacy? This is an important question. How many times have you encountered rational dialogue on social media platforms? Where are SMU actually having a conversation and trying to understand the other point-of-view without judging or labeling? Are we creating enough positive alternative narratives? Online Love Speech is about spreading online love speech, not online hate speech. Its aim is to create alternative content online that is more loving, accepting, respecting and informative. Join our campaign… spread the word… raise awareness.