How to understand and spot hate speech and what are the best ways to counter it? This was the focus of a training course for high school students held by Get The Trolls Out! partner “Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece” in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 10 May 2019.
The group of 16-year-old students of Arsakeio private high school was asked to elaborate on definitions of hate speech according to their experience and knowledge. This initial exercise allowed students to discuss different interpretations and propose inclusive definitions covering all aspects of hate speech. The purpose of the workshop was to define hate speech and to allow students to elaborate on counter-narrative strategies. The training involved about 17 second-grade high school students as part of the course “Contemporary world; Citizen and Democracy”, taught by sociology teacher Maria Amalia Vergoula.
“Each of the students had their own definition of hate speech. They knew it was something bad. We explored what forms hate speech can take, starting from their own experiences,” said Symbiosis trainer Ilias Trochidis. The training course was developed in a way to foster critical thinking and active participation through exercises and discussions. The focus was on social media platforms that are more popular among the students, such as Instagram, as well as traditional media such as popular magazines.
Students also had the chance to discuss disinformation online. The workshop emphasized the importance of carefully reading content that is shared online and encouraged students to carry out further research when articles or posts are sensationalist or discriminate against a group.
At the end, after sharing good practice in counter-narratives with them, each students’ team was asked to scan their preferred social media platform to identify hate speech incidents and devise a counter-narrative strategy. Symbiosis is looking forward to organising a second training where students will be able to share the counter-narrative strategies they have developed.