The SEL activities in this theme provide learners with an opportunity to understand how they can influence the outcome of a situation and who the main players are in a given group situation. There are opportunities to understand why it’s important to consider your actions and how you can exit a situation if things get out of hand.
These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.
- When you see something hateful/offensive online, what is usually your first reaction?
- When you see something hateful/offensive online, what would be the first action you take?
- Is it positive/negative? How do you know?
- How do you decide which action to take? Does it differ by context/situation? Why?
- What tools are available online to manage content that you don’t like/find offensive? (e.g. block, report, flag, mute, etc.)
- Which of these tools do you find effective/ineffective? Why?
- For “ineffective tools”, what action would you take instead?
- Can you give an example of when you may have misunderstood something online? (e.g. you thought something/someone was offensive but it later turned out to be a misunderstanding/miscommunication.)
The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:
“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”
Explain that this activity will give participants the opportunity to see a number of online hate speech examples and make quick decisions as to which course of positive action will be the most effective.
Using the online multiple choice quiz, they will have a limited amount of time on each example to decide what course of action would be most appropriate. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to any of the quiz questions; some responses might prove to be more effective than others in a real-life situation, but context is key! For the purposes of this quiz, only one response can be given per question - in reality they might choose to take a number of actions at the same time (e.g. block/mute a contact and report them, counter a comment but also report it, etc.).
Explain to the group that there are a number of factors they need to consider before making a decision.
Remind them of the field agent skills they considered in the SEL warm-up activity - these could prove useful for making decisions.
They also need to consider:
- Tone - What “voice” is the content shared in? What are the possible motives behind the content? (See Theme 2 - Media Analysis) Is it designed to be offensive/aggressive/good humoured/sarcastic/passive aggressive/”factual” etc.?
- Audience - Who gets to see it? An offensive meme shared by a friend publicly online might prompt you to take different action compared to if they sent it to you in a direct message.
- Optics - How is it viewed by other people? Is the intended meaning clear to you/to the audience? What if it doesn’t offend you personally but you’re not sure if it’s offensive to others?
- Support - What options are available online to deal with this (e.g. block, mute, report, etc.)? What offline options are available to help you (e.g. take a meta-moment/delay making a decision, talk to a friend/trusted adult)?
- Engagement - Would responding/providing a counter narrative be in any way effective, or is getting the content removed a better solution for keeping ourselves and others safe? Positive choices don’t always mean getting directly involved; you have to “pick your battles”!
In small groups, ask learners to choose one or two examples from the quiz (using slides of the questions). Ask learners to research what steps a young person would have to do on different online platforms/services to take action. For example, if they chose to report a comment on Twitter, what buttons/options would they need to press and where would they find these?
Learners should record their research in the form of a “cheat sheet” - a quick set of simple instructions that another young person could follow if they wanted to report/block/mute or take other action on an online service. For actions involving a counter narrative, the cheat sheet could include some suggested messages/remarks that might help defuse a situation or shift it into more positive territory (strategies for doing this using humour are explored in the Media production unit and Citizenship unit of Theme 4).
Encourage learners to provide instructions for a range of online services (e.g. different social media services, gaming platforms, messaging apps/sites, etc.). If possible, they may want to include screenshots from their device to illustrate the steps, or even create short “How to” videos.
Recognise hate speech in a range of online contexts. Select an appropriate response/strategy to manage a hate speech scenario online.