Posted in 21st Century life, anonymity, anonymous apps, commenting, digital world reading habits, ethical behavior, hate groups on the web, online hate, parents and technology, raising digital kids

Is Hate Speech in the Connected World Here to Stay?

Expressing hate is so easy with just a few taps on the keyboard.
Expressing hate is takes just a few taps on a keyboard.

Hate speech has been around for a long time, but the connected world has amplified it. Sometimes hateful and threatening comments on social media and in comment sections feel like they are run-of-the-mill daily events. Sadly, Twitter, an awesome social media communications platform — one that I and many educators use and adore — has offered one of the easiest pathways for hate speech amplification. Twitter makes it easy to be “sort-of” anonymous.

For a good overview of Twitter’s online hate problems, take a few minutes to read Jim Rutenberg’s New York Times article, On Twitter, Hate Speech Bounded Only by a Character Limit. Rutenburg shares some of the hateful accusations he’s received and talks about the challenges that Twitter faces with so much hateful, accusatory, and threatening speech. He notes that Twitter, which is no longer growing its subscriber base, is now for sale. Gutenberg speculates on who might purchase it. “You have to wonder,” he writes, “whether the cap on Twitter’s growth is tied more to that basic — and base — of human emotions: hatred.”                                                    Continue reading “Is Hate Speech in the Connected World Here to Stay?”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, Bookmark It!, cyber-bullying, digital citizenship, digital learning, hate groups on the web, information freedom, parent child conversations, parents and technology

The Teaching Tolerance Website: Use It-BookMark It!

Visit Teaching Tolerance!

It’s a privilege for me to write occasional posts for the Teaching Tolerance blog. However, years before I ever wrote a word for the Tolerance website, I used it as a reference and information source to develop my teaching skills and expand my understanding of the world.

You should too.

If you don’t know about Teaching Tolerance, an arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center, or if you don’t visit the website on a regular basis, you are missing an ever-expanding information universe focused on human rights, diversity, anti-racism, community-building, acceptance, tolerance, inclusion, and much more. In the digital age, with information and misinformation moving at lightning speed, we cannot learn too much about these topics.

Continue reading “The Teaching Tolerance Website: Use It-BookMark It!”

Posted in cultural changes, digital citizenship, digital parenting, hate groups on the web, online safety, online security, parents and technology, risky behavior

Kids, Hate Groups, and the Internet: There’s So Much to Encounter!

In today’s digital world groups increasingly troll the Internet, depositing easily available and intriguing materials — music, posters, jokes, cartoons, and stories — whose sole purpose is to introduce growing children to hate. Over recent years this readily available propaganda, designed expressly to appeal to teen sarcasm, edgy humor, and musical preferences, strives to look like any other funny or absurd digital content a student might casually discover. Except that it’s not funny.

It’s also not something for parents to scare. The simple fix is for parents and educators to talk with children, mentoring them, helping them learn to evaluate, guiding them to develop an eagle eye that identifies and filters hateful content — exactly what you teach them to do with any other inappropriate content.

All of us — educators, parents, and especially adolescents — need to know how to recognize this type of information and how to alert others. Hate groups look for vulnerable pre-adolescents and teens from every socioeconomic group. The level of education in a child’s home and an emphasis on values of respect and acceptance may not make a difference if a child, during an especially needy, lonely, or stressful time or through an error in judgment, encounters a clever hate group tactic. Many children are simply attracted by absurdity, laughing at symbols they know little about. That’s also when a group may try, if it has even a bit of personal information, to encourage an adolescent to come back, laugh some more, and maybe even make a friend.

Hate groups have become more active and more visible since President Obama’s 2008 election, but these organizations, some quite small, have courted young people for years. An old, but still relevant Salon Magazine article, Web of Hate, described the problem as it existed on the Internet in 1998, providing good background. The issue, however, is far more serious today.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) spends a considerable amount of its time and money tracking purveyors of hate. Its website features an interactive hate map and also provides first-rate resources that parents, teachers, and religious leaders can use when hateful content surfaces or when it’s necessary to actually fight recruitment tactics. The map, by the way, is an extraordinary teaching tool in itself, but so are the SPLC intelligence files such as this one on the Ku Klux Klan.

An essay by Heidi Beirich describes the white power racist music industry and some of its recruitment strategiesIn an article in the California-based, East Country Magazine, James McElroy, a chairman of the SPLC board comments:

We try to shine a little light on it. Hate is like a fungus under a rock. Shine a light and you can eradicate it.

Continue reading “Kids, Hate Groups, and the Internet: There’s So Much to Encounter!”