Hate Speech in South Sudan: Social Media as a Weapon of War
PeaceTech Lab, 03 May 2017
In 2016 PeaceTech Lab conducted research to better understand the connection between online hate speech and violence on the ground in South Sudan. The Lab created a lexicon of hate speech terms and monitored social media in support of local initiatives combating hate speech.
What’s the connection between online hate narratives and violence on the ground in South Sudan? How do we begin to understand those connections?
PeaceTech Lab Lexicon of Hate Speech Terms combines cutting-edge social media analysis with in-country expertise to identify both the terms likely to incite violence, and their social and political context. The Lexicon also identifies alternative language that would mitigate the impact of this speech.
The goal of this research is to inform organizations and individuals combating hate speech and building peace in South Sudan, as well as to raise awareness among social media users on the dangers of specific inflammatory language.
Hate Speech Lexicon in South Sudan
Social Media fuels war in a country on the brink of genocide. The Hate Speech Lexicon is the first to identify the terms used to incite violence.
There are words that kill. In the case of South Sudan, social media has emerged as a new source of ethno-political conflict. According to the United Nations and international experts, South Sudan is at the brink of genocide and has been plagued with famine throughout the region this year. Ethnic conflict has erupted since December 2013 amongst parties that are aligned with President Salva Kiir of the Dinka tribe, against those aligned with Former Vice President Riek Machar, of the Nuer tribe. Although South Sudan is among the world’s least developed countries and about 70% of its population is illiterate, hate speech and fake news disseminates through the internet and spreads violence to regions that don’t even have electricity. Local and international organizations have responded to the gravity of situation through their work. One result of this collective effort is the Lexicon of Hate Speech Terms which is the first of its kind to identify the vocabulary used to incite violence of social media.
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