ERADICATE HATE GLOBAL SUMMIT

During the Eradicate Hate Global Summit the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association called upon the social media platforms to stop enabling the largest international far-right hate fest.

Co-founder of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Rafal Pankowski participated in the Eradicate Hate Global Summit held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) on 19-21 September 2022. The Summit is the most comprehensive anti-hate conference in the world. It unites experts and leaders from around the globe, who are dedicated to eradicating all forms of hate-fuelled violence. The mission of the Summit is to identify and implement effective solutions for collective change.

The speakers at the 2022 Global Summit included the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu and Deborah Lipstadt, the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.

Rafal Pankowski paid tribute to the victims of the war against Ukraine and said that Putin’s war ‘once again shows what the politics of hate and authoritarianism leads to: mass violence and human suffering’.

In his presentation Pankowski described the growth of the annual far-right march on the Polish Independence Day (11 November) in Warsaw as an example of the growing internationalisation of far-right extremism. The march is organized by Polish extreme-right groups with the participation of numerous racist extremist organizations and activists from across Europe and North America. It has regularly gathered more than 100,000 participants and it has often turned violent. Pankowski referred to the march as a ‘super-spreader’ of hate and ‘Charlottesville on steroids’. In November 2021, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism appealed to Facebook and Twitter to stop the promotion and fundraising for the march.

The Eradicate Hate Global Summit grew from the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history. On 27 October 2018, a heavily armed gunman, who earlier had posted online antisemitic and anti-refugee messages, massacred worshippers from three different congregations at the Tree of Life Synagogue. In the aftermath of the attack, the people of Pittsburgh responded in ways that have been described as distinctive in the history of antisemitism. They not only visibly stood in solidarity with the Jewish people, but also offered comfort and aid, and spoke up against hate.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. It is a member of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH) and the Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism (GADHE). The Association also takes part in international projects to counteract online hate speech such as ‘Get The Trolls Out’.

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During the biggest open-air free music festival in Europe, Pol’and’Rock (4-6 August), also known as Polish Woodstock, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association organized a football tournament promoting the message of ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of the Stadiums’, involving teenage players who are refugees from Ukraine. Together with the other participants, they manifested their protest against the war.

On another festival day a meeting was held with the rock band Strachy na Lachy (Empty Threats) at the information stand of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. For many years, this group has been involved in the activities of the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign run by ‘NEVER AGAIN’. Krzysztof ‘Grabaz’ Grabowski, the leader of Strachy Na Lachy, explained his band’s involvement in support of the refugees from Ukraine after the outbreak of the war. Some of the musician’s family came from Volhynia (a previously Polish territory, now a region in Ukraine). In press interviews, ‘Grabaz’ emphasised the importance of having neighbours of different nationalities and how it can lead to outbursts of creativity: ‘If in some place different cultures coexist peacefully with each other, then they will undoubtedly develop that place and its culture’.

– ‘During our meeting with Strachy Na Lachy, we talked primarily about war and peace, about respect and prejudice in everyday life, about hate speech and how it can lead to violence. We asked the band to explain how music can create a better world,’ said Joanna Naranowicz, a representative of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and the lead singer of the punk band Qulturka.

Strachy na Lachy was established in 2001 by Krzysztof ‘Grabaż’ Grabowski and Andrzej ‘Kozak’ Kozakiewicz who also play in a punk-rock group Pidzama Porno. It is one of the most famous rock bands in Poland. In 2014 the band’s leader, ‘Grabaz’, was awarded with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta – one of the highest honours in Poland, for his ‘outstanding merits in creative work and artistic activity’.

During the Pol’and’Rock Festival, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association had the honour of hosting many other bands of different music styles involved in the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign.

The ‘Lets’ Kick Racism out of the Stadiums’ tournament has been organised for over twenty years by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association at the Polish Woodstock/Pol’and’Rock Festival. In 2022 it was co-organized with the grass-roots football team FC GAN Pila and supported by FARE network and the Adidas Football Collective through its grassroots support programme. Tournament’s male and female participants jointly express their support for the ideas that guide the entire festival: peace, friendship and respect for diversity. This year, the message resonated particularly strongly with young players from Ukraine who had had to flee the cruelty of war.

During the Pol’and’Rock Festival, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association also organised educational workshops on volunteering and supporting refugees. At NEVER AGAIN’s information stand, there were also practical worskhops on designing anti-racist DIY sew-on patches and t-shirts with the use of stencils and paints. The resulting items of clothing with the message ‘Music Against Racism’ were presented to the participants!

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, and for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the FARE network.

The campaign ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ was a brainchild of the late Marcin Kornak (1968-2014), who chaired ‘NEVER AGAIN’ for many years. ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ has run since the mid-1990s with the aim to combat racism and discrimination at stadiums. One of its main components is monitoring and reporting of hate crimes and hate speech cases.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association also encourages musicians, record labels and promoters who are interested in releasing music tracks or videos as well as organising concerts (including online) with the promotional support of the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign to get in touch via email: info@neveragainassociation.org .

More information:

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ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI SUPPORTS REFUGEES

Robert Lewandowski has officially become an FC Barcelona player and will wear the club’s shirt bearing the logo of the United Nations’ main agency for refugees (UNHCR, Spanish: ACNUR).

As a Barcelona player, Lewandowski will be able to join the fight for the rights of refugee children and youth from across the world. In mid-June, the Catalan club signed an agreement with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), according to which it will be allocating 400,000 euros a year to humanitarian activities in Colombia, Turkey, Uganda and Malaysia. FC Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, has said the priority is to ‘focus on refugees around the world, which is one of the most serious problems that we are currently facing, with 100 million refugees or displaced people (according to UNHCR figures) to whom we need to respond. This figure has increased due to the crisis in Ukraine. With this agreement, UNHCR and FC Barcelona are making an extraordinary commitment to the world.’

The best player in the history of Polish football and the captain of the Polish national team has been supporting for years people who had to leave their homes due to war and persecution. In May 2014, Robert Lewandowski, as the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, visited the Syrian refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan. At that time, over 100,000 people were staying there, more than half of whom were children. The civil war in Syria has been going on since 2011. According to the United Nations, nearly 12,000 children were killed or injured during the war. Lewandowski, together with two boys, Hisham and Mohammad, visited the place where the children spend their free time, which helps them deal with the traumatic experiences. The footballer appealed: ‘We must be open to the children’s voice. Give them your voice, tell your relatives and friends that there are children all over the world who are waiting for our help and interest. Help us tell their story. Your voice is priceless for these children.’

Two days after the start of the Russian invasion, Lewandowski, in a gesture of support for the people of Ukraine, appeared in an armband in the colors of the country’s flag (during the Bundesliga match Eintracht Frankfurt – Bayern Munich). After the match, he posted a comment on Twitter: ‘As an athlete, I can’t pretend nothing is happening. Stand With Ukraine.’ In addition, Lewandowski donated this unique armband to a charity auction. The proceeds (27,000 Polish zloty) were allocated to the purchase of medical first aid materials and their transport to Ukraine. The footballer also played with the Ukrainian yellow and blue armband in the match between the national teams of Poland and Sweden (29 March, the final play-offs for promotion to the World Cup).

However, in reaction to such an open presentation of his anti-war position, Lewandowski was harassed on social media by Polish hooligans and ultra-nationalists. Apart from signs of appreciation for the footballer and expressions of solidarity with Ukraine – there also appeared xenophobic comments. Here are examples of such content published on Twitter: ‘He was a Pole once’, ‘This is no longer our national team. This is a clear betrayal of the country and the fans’, ‘Face next to the shoe and f.ck the sucker who wears foreign colours’, ‘He bowed in front of the Jews in the match so as not to offend them’, ‘Did we have too few gestures of solidarity with the Bandera followers? [Stepan Bandera was the leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists; in practice, the term ‘Bandera’ is frequently used in Poland today as an ethnic slur against Ukrainians – editor’s note] What else to come? Maybe we are supposed to unite our countries immediately and create Ukro-polin [Polin in Hebrew means Poland. Ukropolin is a conspiracy theory according to which Poland would be seized by Jews and Ukrainians – editor’s note]’.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association reported a number of the hateful posts to the Twitter administration, some of which have been removed.

In April 2022, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association published a report entitled ‘Let’s Maintain Solidarity with the Refugees’ detailing incidents of discrimination and hate speech against Ukrainians, refugees and national minorities in Poland in the context of the ongoing war (READ PDF).

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the Fare network. Since 2005, it has led the ‘Racism-Delete’ campaign, which has the objective of removing antisemitic and racist content from the internet. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is a member of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH) and the Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism (GADHE). The Association also takes part in projects to counteract online hate speech such as ‘Get the Trolls Out’ and ‘Open Code for Hate-Free Communication’.

More information:

www.nigdywiecej.org

www.facebook.com/Respect.Diversity

www.twitter.com/StowNIGDYWIECEJ

GLOBAL ALLIANCE AGAINST DIGITAL HATE AND EXTREMISM

This week the Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism held its inaugural event and sent a letter to major tech companies demanding they take action to protect their users and inclusive democracies around the globe.

The event, entitled ‘The Urgent Need for Action Against Online Harms: Global Stories From Frontline Activists’, was held virtually. Speakers included Alliance members, researchers, and people directly harmed by online hate from Iraq, Poland, Myanmar, and the United States.

‘We have come together to demand action and transparency from tech companies,’ said Wendy Via, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. ‘Tech companies say they are doing what they can, they say their policies are global, but the truth is that there is not enough transparency in how tech companies designate dangerous organizations, too many authoritarian leaning politicians continue to enjoy dangerous exemptions, and content moderation and user safety in non-English languages is light-years behind. All of this is causing real harm around the world.’

The speakers’ stories exemplified how tech companies are complicit in the spread of real life hate, violence, and extremism, and speakers implored tech companies to take immediate action in the name of safety for people around the world.

Ro Sayedullah with Rohingya Student Network and Lucky (last name withheld for security reasons), Rohingya activist and student, shared their experience of living through a genocide in which Facebook played a role.

‘Facebook destroyed our life,’ said Lucky. ‘It changed our life into an unacceptable situation. Facebook knows what it did to us, but is still not listening to our voices. Facebook is rejecting our call. Let’s get hand in hand to fight against Facebook’s oppression.’

‘The contributions of Facebook have created hell for us,’ said Sayedullah. ‘I will not give up, I will fight and will inspire people continuously to fight against the human rights violations of Facebook.’

The wide array of speakers showed how widespread the problem of digital hate is throughout the globe, and how people everywhere are actively harmed by tech companies inaction – from genocide, to online harassment, to real-life discrimination, to far-right and anti-democratic events.

‘The vile pro-war propaganda of the Putin regime was enabled on global social media platforms and the companies have been slow to remove it,’ said Rafal Pankowski, co-founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association in Poland. ‘In fact, contrary to the platforms’ claims, it is often still present there. Moreover, far-right disinformation and incitement against the refugees from Ukraine is rampant and the platforms again fail to react.’

Another speaker, Hayder Hamzoz, founder of Iraqi Network for Social Media, said ‘hate speech on the Internet in Iraq has kidnapped the lives of our friends, and strong voices like Dr. Reham Yaqoob who fought for human rights and women’s voices. Social media companies must bear responsibility for the double standards they follow in content moderation and deliberate ignorance of the hate speech on their platforms in our region’.

While people in the United States and the Global North also been harmed by online violence and hate, the people and communities in the Global South are particularly harmed by the tech companies’ inaction.

The Steering Committee of the Alliance also sent a letter laying out demands to tech companies on Tuesday to Meta (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp), Twitter, TikTok, Google, and YouTube. The letter asked tech companies to ensure that their policies, community standards, and algorithms are designed to minimize harm and that those policies are appropriately and globally enforced.

According to the letter, ‘real-world, systemic issues – from far-right extremism to genocide to caste and religious discrimination to gender bias and racism – are made worse by the business practices of major internet and social media companies. We cannot strengthen democracies and protect human rights while companies amplify and reward hate and extremism.’

Specifically, in the letter, the Alliance asked tech companies to take the following actions:

– End exemptions from content moderation for the politically powerful and influencers globally and implement fact-checking for all political ads.

– Clarify and improve definitions of ‘dangerous individual and organization’ designations and ensure their enforcement, with the input of civil society and experts, not only in the U.S. and Europe, but in the Global South. For those companies that do not have such a policy, we strongly believe one must be put in place.

– Expand and ensure proportionate resources for content moderation in all languages and cultural competency for all regions of the world where your business operates.

– Fix and design algorithms to end their amplification of disinformation, hate and extremism.

‘Through international collaboration and collective action, we’re confident that we can, and will, achieve transparency from ad tech companies and the more equitable and consistent application of fairer and stronger hate speech and community standard policies across the globe,’ said Bissan Fakih, Senior Campaigner with Digital Action. ‘The time is now.’

Steering Committee members of the Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism are Avaaz, Digital Action, Equality Labs, Faith Matters, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, and the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. Since 2005, it has led the ‘Racism-Delete’ campaign, which has the objective of removing antisemitic and racist content from the internet. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is a member of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH). The Association also takes part in projects to counteract online hate speech such as ‘Get the Trolls Out’ and ‘Open Code for Hate-Free Communication’.

More information:

https://globalalliance.tech

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TECH COMPANIES MUST PUT HUMANITY BEFORE PROFIT AND POWER

Statement from the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and Global Project Against Hate and Extremism

28 February 2022

As the world watches Putin’s brutal and deadly invasion of Ukraine in horror, tech companies must decide immediately which side of history they are on. They can fulfill their responsibilities as global corporations, on which billions depend, and do all they can to avoid more death and destruction, or they can remain complicit in an illegal act of war that has already led to many deaths, hundreds of thousands of refugees, and massive destruction of cities and towns.

The choice should be an easy one. Tech companies must deplatform Russian propaganda outlets including RT and Sputnik News and key political figures who are spreading hate and disinformation, helping to fuel this war. And search engines need to derank unauthoritative content and disinformation in favor of legitimate sources.

The Putin war propaganda channels are still very prominent on the major social media platforms. Some obvious examples include the Kremlin’s Twitter account, RT and Sputnik’s YouTube channels, and RT and others’ Facebook accounts, among many, many others. This disinformation leads to harms and contributes to the threats against democracies everywhere. These channels and accounts must be removed immediately.

So far, the tech companies have failed to act in any meaningful way. Even as the European Union has banned some Russian propaganda outlets, people across the U.S. and other parts of the globe are being subjected to lies. And dangerous international fascist and white supremacist groups continue to find inspiration in Putin’s propaganda.

Some platforms, including YouTube and Facebook, have announced they will demonetize the Kremlin-funded propaganda machine, RT, but that doesn’t go nearly far enough. We know from experience, and indeed minimum research today, that YouTube is incapable of adequately demonetizing accounts and that Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube are incapable of appropriately labeling accounts with violative content and disinformation. A piecemeal approach by YouTube, Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter is unacceptable. Any channel or account spewing disinformation must be deplatformed altogether, especially those of the politically powerful who would use the loopholes afforded them by companies with a misguided sense of ‘newsworthiness.’

The nearly meaningless steps tech companies have taken since the Russian invasion of Ukraine aren’t good enough, and are a continuation of their failures to protect democracies, users, and the lives that have been lost while they profit. Issuing statements about minimum changes for press coverage is insulting to the world. We’ve seen how discrimination, hate, violence, and even genocide have occurred while big tech fiddles.

This time, these companies must finally step up and do the right thing, take a lesson from the people of Ukraine and all those supporting them, including the Russian peace movement, and put humanity before profit and power.

Launched in 2020, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) was founded by Heidi Beirich and Wendy Via to address the gap in efforts to stop transnational hate and far-right extremism movements, particularly US-based activity that is exported to other countries and across borders.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. Since 2005, it has led the ‘Racism-Delete’ campaign, which has the objective of removing antisemitic and racist content from the internet. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is a member of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH). The Association also takes part in projects to counteract online hate speech such as ‘Get the Trolls Out’ and ‘Open Code for Hate-Free Communication’.

More information:

https://globalextremism.org

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