The increasing digitalisation of societies worldwide has led to unprecedented opportunities for the free flow of information. But there are growing concerns about how digital communication tools, especially social media platforms, have become instrumental to spread harmful content with a significant impact on conflict dynamics and peace. Social media are also increasingly used to spread disinformation, misinformation, hate speech and propaganda designed to mislead a population, as strongly noticed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing potentially harmful online content is particularly complex because content is context specific. This is why the project foresees, besides of using human rights principles as a universal baseline, to take social, cultural, and linguistic nuances into account to develop and review content moderation and curation rules and tools in a localised manner.
Funded by the European Union and implemented by UNESCO, the Social Media 4 Peace project aims to strengthen resilience to potential harmful content spread online, in particular hate speech inciting to violence while enhancing the promotion of peace through digital technologies, notably social media, in three pilot countries affected by protracted crises: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Indonesia and Kenya.
To achieve this overall objective, the project will aim at:
- Enhanced understanding of the root causes, scale and impact of potential harmful online content and of tools to address it.
- Improved curbing of potential harmful content online.
- Enhanced promotion and support of peace building narratives and initiatives through digital technologies notably social media.
The Social Media 4 Peace project will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies. SDG 16 enshrines the importance of public access to information and seeks to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”