Religions for Peace USA Connect RFPUSA Connect (May 2014) | Page 4

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RFPUSA/ May 2014

Every day roughly 4.75 million pieces of social media content are shared on Facebook. In the same amount of time, about 58 million tweets are fired off and 100 hours of footage uploaded to Youtube. Of the vast number of internet users, 73 percent are navigating their way through social sites. It is undeniable that the internet has drastically altered the methods and mechanisms of social communication.

In last month’s Religions for Peace USA webinar, “How to Master the Social Maze,” Linda Sarsour noted the leveling impact of the internet – it is a tool that grants access to any tech-savvy individual to a large morass of information. But information overload is not the only ramification of the integration of social media in our daily lives.

Social media sites are also tools for vocalizing intolerance and hate. For example, Religions for Peace USA’s work on religious intolerance has exposed our allies on the ground in Tennessee to vitriolic Islamophobia – and we are constantly endeavoring to construct an alternative narrative that counters the hate-speech that clutters this social media landscape.

How to respond to hate-speech on social media? It is a bewildering task, especially when those struggling for peace are going up against an amazingly well-funded infrastructure of religious intolerance (as reported by the Center for American Progress in their publication: Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America).

A New Curriculum for Ending Hate-Speech

Recently, a downloadable report by Muslim Advocates titled “CLICK HERE TO END HATE: Anti-Muslim Bigotry & How to Take Action” highlights the most extreme of example of social media hate speech and outlines steps individuals can take to counter such hate.

Primarily legal advocates, Muslim Advocates highlight the rights individuals have on social media and how one can pressure private businesses to silence hateful voices:

“This report provides step-by-step instructions on how to report content that violates social media companies’

policies. Although reported content will not always be removed from social media platforms, user reporting helps inform companies about offensive content online and also holds internet companies accountable to their policies.”

For many of us, social media has become a mechanism that provides an online community. As a community, we should be aware of what rules and regulations need to be enforced to ensure that the democratic principles of respect and dignity for all life are protected online.

The Muslim Advocates’ report illustrates how Islam and Muslims are taking the brunt of online hate speech. As a community, our job is to stand together, to protect each other from violent speech, and to act neighborly – to care for them in such a way that their livelihood is interwoven with our own.

a "how-To" Guide on fighting religious intolerance