Diffusing Tensions in the Social-Media World

Speaking of fake news, how do you counter dangerous speech on social media?

The best idea I’ve seen so far has come from Kenya.  This country went through a very violent election cycle in 2007 with over 1000 people killed.  It seems cellphones were just becoming very popular, and incendiary text messages helped fuel the violence.  In reaction, an organization called Sisi ni Amani (“We Are Peace”) was formed by local activists with the aid of a recent U.S. college graduate named Rachel Brown.

The group’s website says “Sisi ni Amani uses a combination of traditional and innovative approaches to communication and dialogue to increase civic engagement & prevent violence in Kenyan communities.”  For example, one of their programs is a kind of rapid-response team that counters inflammatory texts with messages of restraint and civic education.  They also work to mitigate land conflicts and run a debate program to encourage peaceful discourse.

Have they made a difference?  The 2013 Kenyan elections were mostly peaceful, so maybe they’re onto something.  The organization’s website is http://www.sisiniamani.org/ .  They do accept donations.

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