Series of expert interviews to evaluate the concept of DPT

Vincent Peyrègne

Vincent is president of the World Association of News Publishers since 2012. Among many others, his duties include the fight for the freedom of the press and fostering innovations in public communication.

Vincent, thank you for this opportunity to speak about hate speech and journalism. It feels that incitements to murder the journalist becomes a common response to controversial articles. Would you have numbers regarding online threats against journalists?

Hate speech, stigmatization, violence and increasing polarization are not good for public debate, or open society in general. …

Series of expert interviews to evaluate the concept of DPT

Lucas Dixon

Lucas is an expert in text classification. He is interested in technology that enables good discussions at large. This is his private opinion.

Lucas, you looked into classifying the toxicity of comments. Which up- and downsides did you find regarding the use of text classification for enabling healthy, large scale online discussions?”

It really depends how you use text classifiers. They generally don’t work very well as a black-box rejection filter for comments — like black-word lists, they will have unintended biases on the comments being filtered. …

Digital Peace Talks (DPT) is a social enterprise. This is how we intend to market our free and open source software.

While there will always be a free and open DPT instance for everybody to join and discuss topics, our main focus will be on supporting municipalities with an open and safe platform for discourse.

Neither commercial platforms like Twitter and Facebook, nor open source tools like offer these actors non-normative ways to deal with uncivil behaviors.

Apart from the obvious trade-off between either little data privacy and enormous reach or high data privacy and low reach, both kind of platforms handle incivility with flagging, deleting and banning. Yet experts pointed out and reality proved that this causes extreme users to migrate to less-regulated platforms. We think there is a way uphold social and democratic norms without excluding those that (unwillingly?) …

There already is a platform to discuss, get heard and learn about perspectives, right?

Sure, Facebook is great to stay up to date with your friends or to create traction for a cause. But it sucks when it comes to online discussions on controversial topics. Such discussions almost certainly become toxic on any social media platform. The reason for this is that they base visibility on the quantity of reactions you receive, instead of the quality of interactions you keep up.

Social media is much more about getting heard and seen than about discussing or understanding other views.

Much more then checking your news feed, it is those potential reactions to your actions that make you open that app again. The likes for your picture, the replies to your comment, the views of your story. …

Series of expert interviews to evaluate the concept of DPT.

Jannis Jost

Jannis is researching (de-)radicalisation on the intersection of identity, needs and emotions at the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel. He is editor of the “Terrorism Yearbook”, a standard reference book for current developments in the field. He is currently looking at using computer linguistics to identify individual susceptibility for radicalisation.

Jannis, thank you very much for talking about radicalisation on the internet with us. Could you give our readers a brief introduction on what we know about how and why individuals radicalise on the internet?

Research is still ongoing, but in my opinion radicalisation on the internet is based on the same root causes as offline radicalisation: we find motives like an urge to belong to a group and socialize with like-minded people, which is itself closely related to the need for a positive self-image. For the same reason people like to associate with a higher cause, like helping the (supposedly) oppressed against their oppressors. A higher cause can grant oneself personal significance and also provide a (again, supposedly) pro-social outlet for one’s destructive, violent tendencies. So far, none of this is necessarily unique to radicalisation; we all share these psychological needs. The question is: how are these needs actually addressed? And this is where the internet comes in. In the offline world, the chances of coming in contact with an extremist milieu and ideology is relatively small, unless one happens to live near a right-wing martial arts studio, a jihadist mosque or a left-wing youth club. On the internet, extremist milieus are just as close as moderate milieus: one click away. Also, in the offline world one is usually forced into social settings that do not share a radicalised world view, for instance at work — this can counter or at least slow down radicalisation processes. Due to self-selection and echo chamber effects, on the internet one can get the impression that everyone shares the same opinion, which feels good and reassuring, but can actually foster radicalisation.

Series of expert interviews to evaluate the concept of DPT.

Tobias Rothmund

Tobias is Professor for Psychology in Communication and Media Use. His research interests are located in the intersection between personality research, political psychology and mass media communication.

Hi Tobias, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us about online hate speech.

Given that inequality and wealth disparity are rising globally: Couldn’t hate speech just be the anger of underprivileged people that can’t be suppressed any more?

From a psychological perspective, hate speech can be understood as a form of aggressive communication. …

Introducing Digital Peace Talks

the quest for digital freedom of speech

This article presents Digital Peace Talks, one project of many in Canonical Debate Labs (CDL), a sub-community of the Democracy Earth community on Slack.

“Believe me, it has been hotter on earth before and we are still here. It‘s just bullshit to sell us new stuff.”

“Absolutley right man, climate is always changing, nothing we can do against that. We should prepare for it instead of fighting it. But who listens to us.”

When I overheard this conversation recently at a bar, my blood curdled. Still, I ended up in talking with the speakers later in the evening. As it was a wonderful night and we all wanted to keep the mood good, we tried to avoid letting our opinions separate us. And we actually ended the evening on a good note concerning the blood-curdling opinion, finding common ground with a response that was more or less “You’re right, nothing bad about having free energy and clean air, no need to worsen the situation. …


Iwan Ittermann

Founder of Former founder of Looking to enable free speech without hate.

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