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(OPINION): Concern Over Young People Getting Exposed to Hate Speech Online Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

The outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic resulted in young people spending most of their time on technological devices where they took advantage of social networks, communication apps, chat rooms, and online gaming.

Despite this being the only way young people can keep in touch due to the lockdown, it is quite unfortunate that they are being exposed to increased levels of online animosity that involve hate speech.

What is more unfortunate is that it is not all about the cyberbullying and harassment we often hear about on various social media platforms.

These young people are also being exposed to everyday negativity which includes; Twitter pile-ons, people demonizing celebrities, knee-jerk reactions lashing out at others, acts that happen several times.

According to analysts, such a move not only risks normalising this type of online behavior but also risks children’s mental health and well-being moving forward.

“All I can say is that hate speech can consist of comments, images, or symbols that attack or use disapproving or discriminatory language about a person or group, on the basis of who they are. It is quite unfortunate that our young people are engaging in these misdeeds at a very tender age,” said Wilson Alumasa,” a family lawyer based in Eldoret.

Last month, Internews, an international nonprofit organization, working with citizens and local media in more than 100 countries, through the Safeguarding Democratic Space in Kenya (SADES-K) project, held a virtual training for journalists on Countering Hate Speech between 24th to 26th February 2021.

It is during the training that experienced trainer Tole Nyatta raised concern over the high rate at which young people were getting exposed to hate speech online.

“It is no doubt that during the pandemic’s early stages, researchers saw a sharp spike in far-right extremist posts, including ideologies of fascism, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, and xenophobia,” said Mr Tole.

The objective of the training was to enable journalists to learn how to identify hate speech, provide knowledge to report on and counter the spread of hate speech, and understand digital and physical safety measures for journalists. 

By Dennis Lubanga (Thaddeus Asesa)

The Writer is a Content Creator at Opera News Hub

Content created and supplied by: AsesaThaddeus (via Opera News )

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