A decade of action on online hate – 2013

Social Media is so much a part of our lives, it sometimes feels like they have always been there. We often forget just how new they are, and that we as a society are still coming to grips with them and with the ways they impact our lives, both for good and for harm.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute, founded back in January 2012, was one of the first organisations in the world to identify and highlight problems associated with social media.

Our work created the pressure that led to change and made the online world a safer place. As part of our 10 year anniversary, each month we look at  different year and one of our impactful activities.

Last month we looked at our ground breaking work started in 2012 tackling online racism against Indigenous Australians. This month we focus on another world first from 2013.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute’s 2013 report, “Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims”, provided the first significant look at the growing problem of Islamophobia in social media.

The report examined 50 anti-Muslim Facebook pages and documented 349 images of anti-Muslim hate. The nature of online Islamophobia and the frequency of different narratives of hate was exposed, helping the planning of responses to the problem online and in society.

This work not only highlighted that Facebook was systemically failing to remove Islamophobia, but that it was empowering groups of haters who used the platform to congregate and spread material.

Waleed Aly interviewed our CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, on ABC Radio National. You can listen to it here.

A summary of our work was included in an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation report to the Foreign Ministers of member countries. We presented the work at the United Nations in New York for United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC).

When the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Committee on British Muslims released a report into “defining Islamophobia” in 2018, they said it was our 2013 work which “led to calls from politicians for better structures to deal with online hate and for social media platforms to take a greater onus on tackling online hate”.

The work also led to a chapter titled “The normalisation of Islamophobia through social media: Facebook” in the book “Islamophobia in Cyberspace: Hate Crimes Go Viral” published by Routledge.

Throughout the year, we will celebrate the achievements of the OHPI and later in 2022, we hope to thank all our supporters and announce plans for the next decade at a special dinner (COVID permitting).

Your support is what enables us to undertake such impactful work, and we still need your help. You can create either an automated monthly donation or one-off donation. All donations over $2 are tax deductible for Australian taxpayers.