News

Over One Million Dollars from Global Affairs Canada!

We have recently posted about Project Someone’s work with Lebanese partners. Today, we’re happy to announce that Global Affairs Canada has awarded $1,051,680 to the UNESCO Chair for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism to work with Project Someone on counter-terrorism initiatives in Lebanon in 2018-2019.

 

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Landscape of Hope: excellent turnout at inaugural workshop!

 

 

Director of Project Someone and UNESCO Co-Chair for the Prevention of Radicalistion and Violent Extremism, Vivek Venkatesh, along with his colleague Owen Chapman and other collaborators had an excellent turnout and participation at their first workshop as part of Arctic Pride Festival in Tromsø, Norway.

 

 

 

Photos credits: Alessandro Belleli

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Recording of Hatred in an Era of Misinformation: Lessons from Former Extremists

Below is a recording of our recent webinar titled “Hatred in an Era of Misinformation: Lessons from Former Extremists” recorded on 6 November, 2018. This interactive webinar involved former right-wing extremists, Brad Galloway and Marc Clairoux discussing their own personal experiences with recruiting youth online, and provides pointers on identifying hateful rhetoric online.  

If you have questions following the webinar, or missed the webinar and would like to get in touch with the speakers, here are their contact details.

Marc Clairoux 
Facebook: Marc Clairoux
 
Bradley J. Galloway 
Twitter: @bjgalloway1717
 
 

A Database for Corpus-Assisted Critical Discourse Analysis

In addition to the workshops being conducted in Lebanon and the “Hate to Hope” Massive Open Online Course, Project SOMEONE is developing a database to critically analyze online discourses related to themes and topics of interest to Lebanon and its neighbours. The database is intended to contribute to decision- and policy-making by researchers and public policy officials, as well as contributing to social action, counter-terrorism narratives and related practice by practitioners and community leaders internationally. The database will increase knowledge of patterns of online hate, extremism, misogyny and gender-based violence, and their uses for researchers, public policy officials, practitioners, and community leaders in the Lebanese context. The database will be available online in spring 2019 to our partners and other interested parties.

The first step of the database project has been to identify instances of online conversations that exemplified typical discourses around topics related to political discussions, social or cultural commentary, discussions around gender and human rights, entertainment etc. In collaboration with our partners in Lebanon, discussions were identified on popular online spaces such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. The identified discussion threads were collected and then parsed to extract the conversation content, as well as meta data such as the topic of the conversation, the number of comments or upvotes a post had and so on. The result was two databases – one in English and the other in Arabic. The researchers then identified additional threads on the same online spaces, with the same topics. The resultant corpus size was ready for analysis.

Corpus-Assisted Critical Discourse Analysis (CACDA) allows for rigorous analysis of large volumes of electronically encoded data by combining conventionally quantitative corpus linguistic techniques with typically qualitative critical discourse analytic methods. In other words, it helps uncover patterns in the naturally occurring discourses among people and applies critical analysis to those patterns.

The English database was further analyzed by platform. The Reddit database, had 445,861 words, while the YouTube database had 247,184 words. The Arabic database contained data from Facebook and YouTube and had 784,058 words.

From the initial analysis completed so far, the researchers have identified nearly 50 words that not only appear in high frequency but show statistical significance in terms of the logdice index. Some of these words (along with their variations) are Refugees, Immigrants, Women, America, Hezbollah, Hate, Muslim, Jew.

The identified keywords collocate significantly with words which will form the basis for the next round of analysis. A sample of these collocations are refugee… crisis, women… rights, illegal… immigrants, Jew… hate, Hezbollah… missile, Lebanese… army, terrorist… America and so on.

This screenshot shows a word sketch of the word Onsuriyye, “Prejudice”. The numbers in black are the logdice values associated with the respective collocations (words). 

In the next phase of the analysis, a detailed qualitative analysis will be undertaken to review the specific contexts in which these collocations occur. Each of these collocations will be studied in the context of the topic and the platform in which it was said. The project expects that such a study will potentially offer insight into how these words have been used in Lebanon related discussions in the past year.

This project was funded by Global Affairs Canada (2018-2019).

To read more about our work with our partners in Lebanon, click here and here.

To learn more about the CADCA approach, see Tieja Thomas’ Prejudice du Jour project here on the Someone site. This project examined how issues relating to Canadian citizenship, identity, and cultural belonging are understood and discussed among Canadian citizens within online environments. Specifically, it used Reddit conversations relating to Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values in order to understand how such socio-political phenomena as hate, violence, and oppression are manifested and negotiated online.

New “Hate to Hope” Massive Open Online Course

As part of our work with our Lebanese partners, Project Someone has developed “From Hate to Hope: Building Understanding and Resilience” which is a trilingual, interactive, non-credit Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Participants in the MOOC will:

  • Explore the dynamics of hate including the ways in which people are manipulated to feel and express hate.
  • Gain strategies for building resilience to hate through dialogue.
  • Integrate best practices for using social media for advocacy.
  • Analyze and develop strategies for using social media to build resilience in different sectors.

Hate to Hope will be piloted in January 2019, and available in English, French and Arabic in March 2019.

The UNESCO Co-Chairs for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism – David Morin, Ghayda Hassan and Vivek Venkatesh. An image from the MOOC’s introductory video.

The MOOC’s four modules are titled as follows:

  • Understanding Online Hate
  • Building Resilience Through Digital Citizenship Education
  • Building Resilience Through Dialogue
  • Social Media for Advocacy

Designed with different community stakeholders in mind, this MOOC addresses current issues surrounding hate and radicalization head on. Starting with an exploration of the distinction between hate speech and free speech the content moves on to look at how social media can be used to both traffic and challenge hateful messages. This MOOC is distinguished by its integration of multiple voices and perspectives on these issues. It also addresses hot topics like fake news, filter bubbles and tactics used by hate groups, which are analyzed with examples. More importantly, tangible solutions for prevention, resilience and advocacy, online and offline, are presented as participants are called upon to make a difference in their own sectors. Each module offers a wealth of varied, current and actionable knowledge, exchanges with peers, as well as interactive exercises, some of which are online, using the hashtag #AmalEspoirHope.

The MOOC will contribute to policy and decision-making among public policy officials, community leaders, women rights activists and higher education institutions represented by their Lebanese partner organisations, particularly in helping to create more capable and inclusive institutions.

To read more about our work with our partners in Lebanon, click here and here.

This project was funded by Global Affairs Canada (2018-2019).

Hatred in an Era of Misinformation: a new collaboration with Media Smarts

Our latest collaboration with Media Smarts is an interactive webinar involving former right-wing extremists, Brad Galloway and Marc Clairoux. In Hate in an Era of Misinformation, our speakers will discuss their own personal experiences with recruiting youth online, and provide pointers on identifying hateful rhetoric online.  

 

 

 

Project Someone in Lebanon: An Overview

Project SOMEONE in Lebanon has as its main objective the prevention of hate on social media platforms. With its 11 projects developed by collaborative research practitioners, we offer the Lebanese civic community a variety of curricular activities meant to open dialogue on understanding and building resilience against hate speech. While doing so, SOMEONE tailors those projects to best suit the needs of the community with which we work.

Since April 2018 we have partnered with five local Lebanese NGOs who represent different minority groups. These include special needs individuals (Youth Association of the Blind and the Inclusion Network), women (Collective for Research and Training Development Action), Syrian refugees (Basmeh and Zeitooneh), Palestinian refugees (Majed Abu Sharar Media Foundation), and youth in K–12 settings as represented by Heritage College.

The workshops focus primarily on critical digital literacy and social pedagogy in an aim to build capacity and empower Lebanese communities. After undergoing a rigorous needs assessment, contextualization of all SOMEONE workshops were deemed a key component of the interventions. The latter involves the active participation of head of NGO organizations, co-developers, and co-facilitators from the fabric of the Lebanese community in the development, implementation, and the contextualization of all workshop materials. Following this strategy ensures that the voices of the minorities are heard through local case studies and storytelling that participants will be able to relate to easily.

There are 4 types of workshops, 16 in total, locally in Lebanon. The first type targets school teachers and is titled Digital citizens of Tomorrow. Five workshops took place from July to mid-October 2018 with a total of 86 participating teachers who have an impact on secondary stakeholders in schools all over Lebanon. The second type of workshop targets social workers and is titled Digital Empowerment. Four workshops took place in September and October with a total of 83 participating social workers. The third type of workshop titled Online Media and the Critical Thinker targets social media activists and aspiring journalists. Six workshops are scheduled in October and November 2018, the first in this series has already been completed with 29 participants. We hope to reach an estimated 150 young activists by the end of November. Last but not least, we have one workshop in October of the fourth type of workshop titled Web 2.0: A platform for Peace (not Hate) for 25 university professors.

Based on the evaluations to date, the workshops have been a resounding success. Participants echo the need for subsequent in-depth workshops about the issues discussed. Many participants reported that it was the first workshop of its kind in Lebanon that they have participated in. They especially appreciated the novelty of the topic, interactive aspects of the sessions, and the sharing of experiences, benefitting greatly from the collective intelligence of the group in tackling online hate and ways to combat it.

We administer a pre-test and a post-test to assess the outcome of the workshops and measure the skills acquired by the participants. We also administered evaluations at the end of day one and day two to assess the reaction of the participants to the workshop. Based on these evaluations, we will generate recommendations for preventing online hate through direct engagement with Lebanese communities.

We are also assessing the impact of our training on secondary stakeholders during the first quarter of the year 2019. This evaluation phase will be planned with the Lebanese partners during November and December 2018 trips to Lebanon.

To read more about our work with our partners in Lebanon, click here and here.

This project was funded by Global Affairs Canada (2018-2019).

 All image credits: Vahan Saghdejian

Landscape of Hope: first performance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On November 7, 2018, the first Landscape of Hope performance will take place in Tromsø, Norway. The performance will be led by Vivek Venkatesh, Project Someone director and UNESCO Co-Chair for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, along with Owen Chapman. They will also have collaborators from Arctic PrideTVIBIT and Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum

Prior to the performance, there will be an interactive workshop on digital art for youth between 17 and 24 years old on November 5. 

Register here for the workshop. Click here for Workshop Facebook event and here for Performance Facebook event. 

New Publication analyzing video propaganda produced by ISIS

 

 

 

Director of Project Someone as well as the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia and UNESCO Co-Chair for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, Vivek Venkatesh, and colleagues, examine aspects of propaganda in ISIS videos. Other Project Someone members co-authoring this article are Jeffrey Podoshen, Jason Wallin and Jihan Rabah.

Click here for full article.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Someone in Lebanon

We are thrilled to be teaming up with the teachers of Heritage School in Beirut, both to celebrate the female teachers who are raising Lebanon’s future generations and to build resilience against hate speech and radicalization in Lebanese schools.

Click here for more information

Photo credit: Vahan Saghdejian