Report from #defyhatenow workshop with South Sudanese bloggers in Nairobi, 27-28 July 2017

We sometimes forget that our online voices reach a wider audience than just our friends. Team #defyhatenow is reminding South Sudanese nationals that we need to continue working together to make the online spaces we inhabit more peaceful and tolerant.

Having a platform online gives everyone a voice, and empowers all of us to share our thoughts and contribute to global discussions. What you do with the “little big” audience you have is what matters. We are not just ordinary citizens of our respective countries, we are citizens of the world, and in a minute your online message could bring peace or exacerbate conflict in the world offline.

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Kenya is an example of a country where blogging has moved from a revolution to a way of life. The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) is at the forefront of this transformation. It is a community association of Kenyan bloggers and writers that promotes online content creation & free expression in Kenya.

BAKE connects blogs in Kenya from all areas of interest and expertise. It was formed in 2011 after a series of discussions concerning content creation and consumption of online content in Kenya.

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Topics covered included an introduction to blogging, how to set up a personal blog, ethical considerations, an overview of citizen journalism and storytelling for positive change in sessions from Kachwanya of BAKE, Caleb and Theo of PeaceTech lab, writer and blogger Kendi, with support from our #defyhatenow team project manager and social media manager.

Participants were able to create their own personal blogs, using Medium and WordPress.

The bloggers workshop also focused on strategies for understanding information verification and fact checking. PeaceTech Lab facilitated a session on how to detect and report instances of hate speech and online propaganda on Facebook and other social media platforms. PeaceTech Lab published the Lexicon of Hate speech terms in South Sudan, and conducts ongoing monitoring and analysis shared through the Open Situation Room Exchange (OSRx).

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We all need to be extremely careful about what we share because we reach an audience of more than our friends. Since you have the choice of how to speak and write, it’s important to choose your words wisely, and use them to promote understanding, tolerance and peace – online and offline.

#defyhatenow seeks to support those voices acting against the conflict to go ‘viral’ within and outside the country – bringing the South Sudanese diaspora into the online peacebuilding framework, bridging gaps of knowledge and awareness of social media mechanisms between those with access to technology and those without.

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