Online hateful and harmful messages are so widespread that the problem cannot be laid at the feet of any particular culture or country, nor can such content be easily classified with terms like ‘hate speech’ or ‘extremism’ – it is too varied. Similarly, the people who produce harmful content (and their motivations) are too diverse to fit a stereotype. Daunting though this problem is, there are opportunities to diminish it and to build norms of tolerance that have been largely overlooked so far. This paper offers a set of specific and contrarian ideas for better understanding hate speech and other harmful speech that proliferates online, and for reducing the damage such content causes, while limiting the risk of other harms.
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