On November 5-6, 2015, the FECCA 2015 National Biennial Conference was held in Sydney. The focus of the conference was Multiculturalism in Action: Building a better future for all Australians, and it dedicated an entire panel discussion to the subject of Cyber Racism. Karen Connelly, a doctoral student at the UTS, represented the Online Hate Prevention Institute on the panel.

The speakers on the panel are a part of a multi-university project called the Cyber Racism and Community Resilience (CRaCR) project. The project is jointly being conducted by the University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University, Monash University and Deakin University. The project explores how perpetrators construct racist discourses, how internet users encounter and respond to cyber-racism, and how effectively strategies of regulation cope with the expansion of cyber-racism.

OHPI is a partner organization of the project. OHPI’s independent hate reporting tool FightAgainstHate.com is being used by some of the researchers on the project, including Connelly, to document the content from social media accounts of hate groups.

The panel was reporting on the findings of the projects as they stand now. Karen presented the work OHPI is doing and how FightAgainstHate.com can be used to effectively combat racist speech on social media. She also discussed how social media is leading to a normalization of racist speech in Australia. She discussed one particular Facebook page, and how the content from the page was disseminated across its 58000 followers, representing approximately 4.2 per cent of all Facebook users in Australia.

Other speakers on the panel were Rosalie Atie, Western Sydney University, Professor Andrew Jakubowicz, University of Technology Sydney, Professor Ana-Maria Bliuc, Monash University, Professor Kevin Dunn, Western Sydney University, and Dr Nasya Bahfen, Monash University.

OHPI’s work eviscerated much interest and queries from the audience, in particular, from youth groups and charities supporting migrants, especially those that will be working with the refugees from Syria and neighbouring countries that have started arriving into Australia.

Please share to help us spread this message. If you aren’t yet following the Online Hate Prevention Institute on Facebook, please join us.

NOTES

The Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) is Australia’s National Charity dedicated to tackling the problem of online hate including online extremism, cyber-racism, cyber-bullying, online religious vilification, online misogyny, and other forms of online hate attacking individuals and groups in society. We aim to be a world leader in combating online hate and a critical partner who works with key stakeholders to improve the prevention and mitigation of online hate and the harm it causes. Ultimately, OHPI seeks to facilitate a change in online culture so that hate in all its forms becomes as socially unacceptable online as it is in “real life”.