An important topic that featured throughout the entire re:publica TEN was the conversation surrounding #Hatespeech and the question of how members of society interact with each other online. Over the course of different sessions and together with our speakers, we wanted to analyse the situation and try and find a way out of this seemingly hopeless state of affairs: Let’s make the internet great again!

The discourse has broken down: Individuals or whole groups are being held up to shame and, as a chaser, we have to stomach all kinds of imagery that moves well beyond the boundaries of good taste – that is, unless the content has been sorted out by "clickworkers" beforehand, thereby saving us from having to deal with that pixel-based hell. We get the feeling that, although the internet has developed into the main medium of communication (1!111), the segmentation of society is spreading faster than we can say "Crowdfunding". In October of 2015, playwright Falk Richter stated in an interview that "a climate has established itself in the media, in talk shows and demonstrations – and, of course, on the internet –, in which we people feel free to uninhibitedly hate, instigate and discriminate".

This has a lot to do with how the culture of dialogue has changed. How do we form our social sphere? We are interested in better understanding the technical infrastructures that can end up obstructing a real exchange. How can freedom of opinion and speech be made compatible with the internet in a way that retains a tolerable atmosphere? We are also concerned with how we deal with already existent negative currents, both psychologically and methodically. We give the stage to those who are usually judged and condemned, while keeping an eye on the role played by blogs, journalism, the platform providers, and politics. This is, not least, also an opportunity for some introspection on our part: What can we change ourselves? To that end, we propagate: Dialogue instead of a vicious circle! Which strategies seem promising? To illustrate this, re:publica veteran Friedemann Karig drew parallels between the internet and puberty in his session.

Other program highlights of our #Hatespeech focus included: Heather Armstrong, famous blogger, presenting a new approach for personally handling verbal attacks and the journalist Carolin Emcke giving an overview of the phenomenon of "organised hate". Editor Ingrid Brodnig looked behind the psychology of fake stories: What motivates users to spread lies and what can be done about it? Her lecture gave you some insights. There were also workshops on offer, for example on how we should deal with stalking. Besides highlighting courses of action for the individual, Sarah T. Roberts was holding a lecture on the practicals of commercial content moderation and Rikke Frank Jørgensen was speaking on the role platforms play in the adherence to human rights.

Photo Credit: K-Screen Shots (CC BY 2.0)

  • Having proclaimed the creation of the Satire Caliphate, the “Datteltäter” collective have taken to YouTube with social critiques and received its share of digital hate. With their talk in the themed track #Hatespeech on Day 2 they again shook their audience and spared no one.

  • Why do lies work so well? This was the topic of journalist Ingrid Brodnig’s speech on Day 3. In our theme track #Hatespeech, she recommends three steps to fight the dissemination of false information.

  • Flood the web with love – that is blogger Kübra Gümüşay's appeal to her audience. In her emotional lecture "Organised Love", in the scope of the re:publica TEN #Hatespeech focus, she calls on everyone to celebrate positivity in the comments sections, forums and on Twitter.

  • Friedemann Karig sees the digitalisation of society as being as crucial a phase as puberty is for any individual human being. In his talk "The Pubescent Society and the Web" in the topic focus #Hatespeech, he spoke about the overload people feel with this shift.

  • Violence, pornography, agitation – everything is uploaded to the web. But who ensures that it disappears as quickly as possible? That's what Commercial Content Moderators are for. Sarah T. Roberts and Director Moritz Riesewieck report on stories from their work. 

  • Where does the hate on the internet come from? And how should we react to right-wing agitation? A discussion with Frank Richter, Caroline Mohr, Fabian Wichmann and Falk Richter.

  • "Once you discover the person behind the hate, the war is over." That was the message from Heather Armstrong, single Mum, Mummy blogger and constant target for hate comments.

  • An important topic that will be featured throughout the entire re:publica TEN is the conversation surrounding #Hatespeech and the question of how members of society interact with each other online. We want to analyse the situation together with our speakers and try and find a way out of this seemingly hopeless state of affairs.

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    Commercial content moderators are unseen, unknown internet gatekeepers, responsible for ridding social media of violent, extreme and shocking material, on behalf of major firms who require their services.
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    Muslime planen ein neues Satire-Kalifat im Herzen der YouTube-Szene und nun auch
    auf der re:publica. Wir rufen auf Stage 1 den Bildungsdschihad aus und
    sagen den gängigen Stereotypen gegenüber Muslimen den Kampf an.
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    Strategien für ein besseres gesellschaftliches Miteinander jenseits der Filterbubble. – Der Diskurs ist kaputt, Europa auch. Wie konnte das passieren, und warum ist vielleicht auch das Internet schuld? Das fragen wir uns auf unserem Eröffnungspanel – und halten uns selber den Spiegel vor.
  • Arts & Culture
    We have all been online long enough to have encountered criticism from people whose faces we will never see. Some of it is constructive, and some if it is awful, anonymous assumptions and slurs that we do our best to ignore. Sometimes our emotions prevent us from making a distinction between that which could be helpful and that which is just plain bullying. There isn’t a cure for it. It cannot be fixed or stopped. Learning how to deal with both is a factor of life that our children will have to endure on a scale we never did, in ways we probably can’t imagine. I’ve tried and failed many times to react in the best possible way and have finally learned that “reacting” isn’t the answer. The answer is something much more fearless.